Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Damian Browne Determined to Row into Galway After Arduous Transatlantic Crossing

2nd October 2022
Former Connacht rugby player Damian Browne is closing in on Galway after rowing across the Atlantic from New York
Former Connacht rugby player Damian Browne is closing in on Galway after rowing across the Atlantic from New York

“I see land and it’s Ireland”.

After sending that WhatsApp message from sea several days ago, former Connacht rugby player Damian Browne could have berthed in Kerry by now after rowing 3,500 nautical miles across the Atlantic.

However, the extreme adventurer was so determined to become the first person to row solo from New York to Galway that he has eschewed hot showers, hot food and a bed on land for several more days.

Instead, Browne has been transiting north along the Irish Atlantic seaboard over the weekend to ensure his first landfall is in his native city.

“I see land and it’s Ireland”

Bonfires are planned on the Aran islands as he approaches the southernmost island, Inis Oírr, having passed Loop Head in Co Clare on Sunday evening.

It is anticipated that he will time his row into Galway docks for the high tide on Tuesday morning (Oct 4), when the Port of Galway harbourmaster Capt Brian Sheridan and team open the lock gates from 10.45am.

Weather permitting, a flotilla of vessels is planned to accompany him in for the last 30 miles from Inis Oírr early on Tuesday.

Browne, who has survived a number of capsizes during a most arduous crossing, has already rowed east west across the Atlantic.

This west-east crossing has been particularly challenging, as weather often forced him off course – meaning he has rowed 3,400 nautical miles on a 2,600 nautical mile distance as the seabird flies.

Loss of vital equipment during storms and heavy weather has also meant he has been surviving on cold food.

The unsupported row began on June 15th with his close friend Fergus Farrell, also a former rugby player.

However, Farrell had to be evacuated at sea after 13 days, when his oxygen levels dropped to 86 per cent and he was at risk of blood clots.

Farrell, who survived a traumatic spinal injury in 2018 and learned to walk again, said his online medical support took just 30 seconds to inform him his row was “finished”.

The pair were attempting to set a new Guinness world record in their purpose-built Seasabre 6.2m craft.

“Damian is very stoic, focused and very present,” MacDara Hosty of his Project Empower support team said at the weekend.

It is anticipated that he will be greeted in Galway docks by his partner Rozelle, baby daughter Elodie, parents Mary and Joe Browne and siblings Andrew and Gillian and their families.

A golf buggy has been provided to drive him around the docks to meet wellwishers, before he is taken to the Harbour Hotel for a private reception.

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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