Galway men will attempt to row across the Atlantic

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Galway men will attempt unsupported row across the Atlantic

Two Galway men will undertake a harrowing trip to row across the Atlantic Ocean in an ocean rowing boat in 2022 as part of a crowdfunding campaign, after crossing Galway Bay in a traditional currach to launch the campaign.

Former professional rugby player Damian Browne from Renmore, along with lifelong friend Athenry’s Fergus Farrell, launched Project Empower this week.

The two kicked off their two year preparations for the gruelling trans-Atlantic trip ahead of them with a rowing voyage from Inis Oírr to Galway City in a traditional Currach.

Renmore native Damien had a 16 year career in rugby before retiring in 2015, and since then he has pursued even more extreme highs.

In April 2016 Damian completed the 6 day, 257km Marathon des Sables, across the Sahara Desert also known as ‘The Toughest Footrace on Earth’.

He also completed a solo voyage across the Atlantic over 63 days in 2018, enduring nine-meter swells, deep lacerations on his head, and complete steering system failure.

Fergus Farrell is Damien’s rowing partner in Project Empower. The two first met when playing against each other and then together for Connacht underage rugby and Galwegians RFC.

In October 2018 Fergus’ life changed forever when work place accident ruptured his T9, T10 and T11 discs and his T10 leaked into his spinal cord, leaving him completely paralysed from his belly button down.

After emergency surgery in the National Spinal Unit, Fergus woke up to see his motionless feet in front of him. He asked the surgeon if this is the way it will be.

His surgeon placed a hand on his shoulder and told him he was very unlucky. Determined not just to accept his Grade A spinal cord diagnoses he enter the National Rehabilitation Hospital to fight for his normal life back.

One year later, on the 26th October 2019 against all odds Fergus walked 206km from the place of the accident to the NRH in Dun Laoighaire. During the ‘The Toughest Trek’ he helped raise €70,000 for the NRH.

Damian and Fergus’ ocean rowing boat for their trans-Atlantic voyage will be built by master boat builder Justin Adkin of Seasabre.

Damian and Justin already have history, with Justin building Damian’s boat for his 2017 solo trans-Atlantic row.

All Seasabre boats are designed and built alongside the expertise and experience of renowned ocean rowing boat designer Phil Morrison.

Project Empower have commissioned Justin to build a bespoke ORB design, which will proudly be a classic design shape, sticking closely to traditional values of ocean rowing.

The first ever successful trip across the Atlantic under nothing other than the power of manned oars was by George Harboe and Frank Samuelsen.

They were the first to make this monumental voyage in 1896, setting off from New York and arriving in Sicily after an incredible 55 days and 13 hours

Their record still stands after more than a century, and 52 attempted crossings by way of unsupported row.

Only 18 of those voyages have successfully landed in Europe, and none have beaten the time, highlighting the danger and difficulty of what is being undertaken.

Project Empower Crowdfunding Options will open on October 6th. To find out more or to be a supporter of Project Empower check out http://www.projectempower.ie/ and follow the journey across social platforms on Facebook and Instagram at Project Empower.