A Galway man is preparing to write his name into the history books by becoming one of only a handful of people on earth to row solo across the Atlantic.
Gavan Hennigan will attempt the 5,000km crossing this December as part of the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge.
The event takes place every year from La Gomera in the Canaries to Antigua in the Caribbean, and Mr Hennigan will make it in a specialised Ocean rowing boat, which could take up to three months to complete.
The voyage is widely considered to be one of the toughest challenges on the planet and to date, more people have climbed Everest, reached the North Pole or ventured into space than have successfully rowed the Atlantic.
To add an extra challenge Mr Hennigan plans to row it solo for which there have been even fewer crossings.
He explains why he decided to undertake such an expedition.
“That’s a big question a lot of people ask and I suppose I like the idea of the challenge. I’ve spent a lot of my time in extreme places doing mountaineering in the Himalayas, I’ve been to Antarctica, I’ve done some of the world’s longest and toughest ultra-marathons, I’ve also had one of the most dangerous jobs in the world as a commercial diver so I’ve lived this life of extreme adventure and this just looked like the next big challenge for me.
The Knocknacarra native said he is nervous and excited but definitely up for the challenge. “I really like the idea of being out at sea for up to two, three months and being self-sufficient and the challenge of all that and making my own decisions.”
Throughout the row, Mr Hennigan will face raging seas, howling winds, sharks, blisters, salt rashes, sunstroke and sleep deprivation but he said he is strengthened by his resolve to do this and raise monies for four charities; Cancer Care West, Jigsaw, RNLI and Sanctuary. He is hoping to raise in the region of €20,000. Cancer Care West and Jigsaw are both close to his heart and Mr Hennigan has already raised thousands for Galway charities through different expeditions.
The Irish Extreme Environment Athlete said it’s “tough” to prepare for such an arduous task. He outlined the training he is undertaking; “The boat is specially designed for ocean crossing, it isn’t really designed for coastal rowing so I am trying to do as much as I can around here. I’m rowing out of Renville into Galway Bay and I was doing bits on the Corrib when I first started off and then I’ve got a rowing machine in my living room so I spend a lot of time on that as well.”
Mr Hennigan also competed the Half Ironman at the Challenge Galway event last weekend.
“From the mental side of things I’m just relying on my experience within the expeditions that I’ve done in the past.
“One of the most recent things I did was to cross Lake Baikal in Siberia last March. I went on my own across the frozen Lake Baikal in Siberia and it was 700km in 17 days, fully self-sufficient and unsupported, so that’s how I would have prepared for this sort of endeavour to go on my own but obviously the row itself and the nature of the challenge is another level up altogether,” he added.
The 35-year-old has worked worldwide as a deep-sea saturation diver for more than ten years and he believes this will stand to him during his ocean row.
“Having worked in these environments I realise the importance of safety. Diving is a very dangerous, hazardous occupation so obviously there’s a huge amount of safety goes into that and then there’s a huge amount of safety that will go into the row so everything involved down to backup systems, to having extra food, extra rations, a life raft, an extra hand pump to make water with.”