Galway rower nears end of 5,000km Atlantic crossing

Gavan Hennigan is leading in the solo boat category

Galway native and extreme environment athlete Gavan Hennigan is nearing the end of one of the world's toughest races as he rows solo for a distance of 5,000km across the Atlantic ocean in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

Currently sitting in third place out of twelve, he is competing solo and is ahead of many crewed boats with teams of two, three, and four as he nears the finish line in Antigua with an expected completion date of February 3rd.

To this day more people have climbed Everest, reached the North Pole or ventured into space than have successfully rowed the Atlantic, and Gavan is on track to join the small list of rowers who have crossed the Atlantic solo in 50 days or less.

Gavan has held third place since day three of the race, an incredible achievement considering that many other boats in the race have extra crew members to take turns at the oars.

Gavan's background in extreme athletics has seen him compete in climbing and snowboard mountaineering in all seven continents, including crossing frozen Lake Baikal in Siberia on foot, covering 700km in just 17 days.

Up until one year before he set off for his race, Gavan had never rowed before in his life, relying on his high fitness levels and mental determination to stand by him in his training for the race. He gained an extra 10kg of weight and aimed to eat 5,000 calories a day during the Atlantic crossing from freeze-dried expedition meals and high-fat MCT oil.

Alongside his goal of solo racing across the Atlantic, Gavan is aiming to raise awareness and funds for two Galway based charities, Jigsaw and Cancer Care West.

Choosing to fundraise for Jigsaw, a mental health support service for young people was a personal choice. As a youth, Gavan suffered with alcohol and drug addiction and went into rehab at 21. He managed to turn his life around and has stayed clean and sober since then.

As he nears the end of the Atlantic race, Gavan says that:

"I can only focus on rowing my boat and pushing myself to the limit to get to Antigua as fast as I possibly can.

"My goal before this race was to be the first solo man home and to set a new Irish record. I'm going to achieve that. I'm fighting hard out here with my body and my mind... I'm gonna get to Antigua with style and raise that flare and tricolour high when I get there".

To follow his progress in the race see here, with latest updates available on his Twitter page.