Two friends will be taking on the extreme challenge of rowing across the Atlantic Ocean from New York City to Galway in an attempt to break a world record.
Damian Browne and Fergus Farrell met almost 20 years when they both played for Galwegians RFC, and now they are taking on a challenge even more dangerous than senior rugby.
In October 2018, Fergus was given just a 5pc chance of walking again after an accident left him completely paralysed from the waist down.
However, with extreme determination he did walk again, and just two years after his injury he walked 206km across Ireland.
He has now set himself another extreme challenge as he and his lifelong friend plan on breaking the world record by rowing the North Atlantic in just 55 days.
The challenge won’t be completely new for Damien. He is an avid extreme adventurist who completed a solo Atlantic Row in 2018 after 62 days, six hours and 25 minutes at sea.
The former professional rugby player said the plan has been in motion for two years, and it didn’t take much convincing to get his friend Fergus on board.
"I knew that North America to Europe was possible and that some people had finished in Ireland before so that's where the genesis of the idea had come,” he told the Irish Independent.
"And, I just loved my last experience, it was everything I wanted and so much more so I knew I’d do another one and I thought wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to row into your own town and I didn’t want to do another solo one.”
Damien said he asked Fergus to do the challenge with him as he knew he was a determined person after completing the 206km walk just two years after being paralysed.
“He’s great now all things considered. He is really good and he’s coming on more and more every day and training is particularly challenging and he is not only managing it but he is growing and improving his performance,” he said.
"And you can see he is gaining more confidence and enthusiasm through it all even though it's highly demanding.”
The duo is paying for the expedition through an online crowdfunding page, and finally got to see the boat for the first time yesterday after putting the order in over a year ago.
"[Yesterday] was the first time I laid my eyes on it,” Damien said.
"It was a great relief to see it and it looks beautiful, it’s all come together really well so I’m delighted to have the centrepiece of the whole thing, you can’t get very far without it.”
The Galway men will be rowing the 4937.47km across the Atlantic Ocean in the rowing boat completely unsupported.
Damien said the most dangerous part of the mission is potentially detaching from their boat, so they will be making sure they are harnessed to it at all times.
The men plan on rowing for 24 hours of the day by taking shifts and only sleeping for short periods throughout the day.
"We will go for 24 hours the boat will never stop,” Damien said.
"We will go on shift, so I will row for probably two hours and Fergus will row for two hours and then when you’re not rowing you try and get an hour and 15 minutes of some kind of rest,” Damien said.
"We have all our food on board, we will bring about 65 days’ worth of food and that will be freeze-dried rations and we will add boiling water to it to eat it.
"That is possible because we have a desalinator on board that will suck up the seawater and then it will run through a number of filters for water that we can use. And that is capable of being used through solar panels.”
The former rugby player said he does expect this voyage to be mentally tougher than his race in 2018, as in May he will be leaving his 14-month baby girl and partner.
Asked why he wanted to do an expedition like this again, Damien said it’s because he enjoyed the last one so much - and understanding himself better is the highlight of it all.
"My favourite part of [the 2018 race] was when I lost my steering,” he said.
"I had a complete system steering failure on day 17, so something that's already particularly difficult became 10 times more difficult.
"But my favourite part was seeing the way I reacted to that incredibly catastrophic news
"With a clear lens I could see my own character and how I dealt with such a catastrophic event, that's what these extreme adventures throw up, they throw up clarity on who you are.
"You’re going to see yourself at your best and your worst while you’re out there and feel very privileged to be able to do that.”
the challenge can beDetails of found at projectempower.ie.