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In 30 Seconds My Row Was Over - Fergus "Gussie" Farrell on a Transatlantic Medevac

17th July 2022
Fergus “Gussie” Farrell was medically evacuated from his transatlantic rowing challenge
Fergus “Gussie” Farrell was medically evacuated from his transatlantic rowing challenge Credit: via Facebook

Former rugby player Fergus “Gussie” Farrell who was medically evacuated from rowing vessel Cushlamachree 600 nautical miles out in the Atlantic late last month has said he is gutted at having had to leave his rowing partner Damian Browne.

Speaking on RTÉ Seascapes on Friday, Farrell has also paid tribute to the master and crew of the Singapore flagged tanker, Hafnia Shenzhen, which responded to a US Coast Guard request for assistance.

The tanker diverted, and Farrell was brought on board using the gangplank, and taken to the medical room for further assessment.

Farrell’s oxygen levels had dropped to 86 per cent on June 26th, and he was at risk of blood clots.

He described on Seascapes how his online medical support took just 30 seconds to assess the information and inform him his row was “finished”.

The pair were 13 days out from New York on an unsupported row to Galway, and were attempting to set a new Guinness world record in their purpose-built Seasabre 6.2m craft.

Fergus Farrell prepares to board the ship Hafnia ShenzhenFergus Farrell prepares to leave Cushlamachree and board the tanker Hafnia Shenzhen Photo: via Facebook

Farrell survived a traumatic spinal injury in 2018, learned to walk again and walked across Ireland to raise funds for the National Rehabilitation Hospital of Ireland Foundation in 2019.

The Hafnia Shenzhen took him to New York where he was taken to hospital for further tests and cleared to fly back to Ireland.

Browne is continuing the row solo to Galway as part of Project Empower, in aid of four charities, and has three oars left after he capsized three times.

Speaking on a Linked In post while on para-anchor for 17 hours, Browne said he had “no interest in capsizing again” but was a “sitting duck” in huge waves.

The position of rowing vessel Cushlamachree on July 17The position of rowing vessel Cushlamachree on July 17 with Damian Browne onboard

He said the boat was “decimated”, with the ocean ripping away oars and he nearly lost his seat.

He lost items including a -jet boil, ten-litre drinking container and compass.

He said it was the first time that he was “a little bit scared for expedition’s success”, with so much water in the cabin after the capsizes.

These are “very very very long hours”, he said, and the lyrics of a Johnny Cash song kept coming into his head – as in "Son, this world is rough, And if a man's gonna make it, he's gotta be tough"

“We’ll see how we go,” Browne said.

Listen to Fergus Farrell’s interview on Seascapes here

Published in Coastal Rowing
Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Search and Rescue: True stories of Irish Air-Sea Rescues and the Loss of R116 (2022); Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004); and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010). She is also co-producer with Sarah Blake of the Doc on One "Miracle in Galway Bay" which recently won a Celtic Media Award

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