A MAYO man is part of a record-breaking team of ex-servicemen who have become the first amputees to row unaided across an ocean.
Paddy Gallagher, 30, from Achill Island, Co. Mayo, is a former Irish Guardsman who completed the world’s toughest ocean rowing race, travelling 3,000 miles across the Atlantic, as part of a four-strong team on Thursday, February 4.
After 46 days, 16 hours and 41 seconds the team of ‘legless rowers’ rowed into the English Harbour in Antigua where they were given a hero’s welcome and greeted by cheering crowds.
Together, the amputee team have raised £26,445 for The British Limbless Ex-Servicemen’s Association (BLESMA), Help for Heroes, the Endeavour Fund and of Row2Recovery’s inland military rowing programme.
Gallagher, who now lives in Cambridgeshire, moved to Britain and joined the Irish Guards in his early 20s, serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan before losing his right leg below the knee in a bomb blast in 2009.
The team is captained by 29-year-old serving Light Dragoon Lance Corporal Cayle Royce, MBE from Darmouth, and also includes former RAF Flight Sergeant Parachute Jump Instructor Nigel Rogoff, 56, from Hereford and serving Royal Marine Colour Sergeant Lee Spencer, 46, from Yelverton.
The team set off on their journey across the Atlantic Ocean on December 20 from La Gomera in the Canary Islands, unaided in just a rowing boat to raise awareness of life beyond injury for injured service men and women.
The foursome endured storms and harsh weather conditions for the first 2,000 miles, often leaving them locked in the airtight cabin for days at a time.
They faced additional challenges when one member of the team broke his prosthetic leg within the first few weeks of the challenge, with two members of the team getting injured due to the gruelling two-hour shift pattern.
Despite the hurdles, the team, known as ‘four men, three legs, one ocean’, remained in the top ten boats to land in Antigua, out of the 26 international teams taking part in the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge.