It is being reported as the toughest, hardest Celtic Challenge to date, but one Inishowen club defied all the odds to complete the world’s longest rowing race.
For the first time in their short history the Moville based Foyle Rowing Club, the group of seven men and seven women took part in the 100 mile Celtic Challenge from Arklow to Aberystwyth at the weekend.
And with a time of 20 hours 28 minutes, the Moville rowing club came in first in their [mixed] section and third overall.
Speaking to the ‘Journal’ yesterday on route back to Moville, team member Don McGinley said they were all “shattered” but “totally exhilarated”.
“I still can’t believe it,” explained Don. “Not only was it the longest race, it was also the hardest Celtic Challenge ever. The weather conditions were extreme and 12 out of the 23 boats pulled out before the start.
“We were rowing against the strong North East wind and at one stage we got a fright because we were hit with a 10 foot wave.”
But despite the fact that everything was against them, the team managed to pull together and complete the race in a great time.
“We came first in our section, we were the third overall and we were the first Irish team in. All our training paid off, we’re totally exhilarated.
“We never experienced conditions like those over such a prolonged period but we got through it. Initially we were worried about rowing at night but there was a good moon and that really helped out.”
Last year the Foyle Rowing Club took part in the Cholmcille Challenge were they completed a row from Scotland to Greencastle, and now they want to continue to build on their success.
“We have only been rowing like this for the past three years so to complete this challenge and finish sprinting is unbelievable. Now we want to try and encourage other clubs to take part in the Cholmcille Challenge next year. They know about us now so hoping we can build on that.”
While Don was joined by a number of the rowers on the flight back from Wales, team member Thomas Farren and Hugh Kelly remained in the Welsh town to collect the prizes.
“Thomas organised the whole thing for us and, for a wee club such as ourselves, this was a fantastic success,” concluded Don who is the local doctor in Moville.