Tuesday 17 July 2018

Ex-rugby star just keeps rowing ... all the way across Atlantic

Damian Browne in Antigua after rowing 4,800km
Damian Browne in Antigua after rowing 4,800km
Ger Keville

Ger Keville

Just keep going. It was a mantra that pushed former rugby star Damian Browne towards completing an epic solo voyage across the Atlantic Ocean.

A tanned and heavily bearded Browne (37) crossed and hit land after a gruelling 63 days, six hours and 25 minutes at sea.

It meant travelling 4,800km from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua's English Harbour in the world's toughest row.

The Galway native, who played for both Leinster and Connacht, endured physical and mental challenges along the way in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge to complete a journey that "will live with me forever".

He faced 12-metre waves and capsized twice during the challenge in the middle of the Atlantic but found the energy and strength to continue each time he was knocked down. "It's really tough as I kept getting pushed back towards land and I'm very grateful that I found the determination to keep rowing," he said.

Whale

"There are loads of lessons I'll take away with me, but the main one I'll remember is to never give up, no matter what the challenge; just keep going and you'll make it in the end."

Other challenges included an encounter with a whale, and a near-miss with a massive cargo ship as recently as last Wednesday.

"You look over your right-hand shoulder and see a behemoth of a cargo ship head straight at you," he posted on social media.

Violent stormy conditions also threatened his small craft on occasion.

"It feels so good to finally arrive to such an amazing welcome in Antigua after nine weeks of suffering and hardship," he said. "Without a doubt, this is the toughest challenge I have ever taken on - but one I'll never forget."

Browne played in the second row for Connacht, Northampton, Brive, Leinster and Oyonnax.

His brother Andrew is currently with Connacht.

Browne was rowing in aid of Médecins Sans Frontières, the Strong Roots Foundation School in Rwanda, and Madra dog rescue.

Irish Independent

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