Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

16.05 7 Jun 2021


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Five Irish men are hoping to row from Ibiza to Barcelona later this summer to raise money for charity.

Shay Dunne, Kevin Loughnan, Jonathan Tucker, Jack Doyle and Maurice Sheehy will embark on the 320km race in late July.

They'll be rowing for three days and nights in likely blistering heat, with the hopes of raising money to vaccinate people against HPV.

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The race is organised by the UK-based NOMAN campaign, which works to raise awareness of the cancers HPV can cause.

On Lunchtime Live, Kevin Loughnan - one of the five team members - said they're not expecting a relaxing trip.

He said: “Hopefully we’ll enjoy [some time] in Ibiza and Barcelona at either end of the trip… but the race itself will be fairly tough, I’d assume.

“It should take around three days - we’ll be rowing day and night, probably against three or four other teams.

“Shay Dunne organised it originally - he was planning to take part in this race a few years ago, but it didn’t go ahead at that time. So he was trying to find a team that was fully Irish… so we could train as a group and get some momentum behind the fundraising.”

There will be two people rowing at a time during the race, while a coxswain helps steer and navigate.

That will allow other team members to rest or sleep during the race, although Kevin said that means they'll likely just be grabbing short periods of sleep when they can.

Some of the team members are involved in Wicklow Rowing Club, but Kevin himself isn’t a rower - other than being a frequent user of the rowing machine in the gym.

Training for the race itself was disrupted by COVID, with most training taking place at home on rowing machines.

However, with restrictions being eased now the team is getting out on the boat two or three days a week

While the role of HPV in causing cervical cancer is well-known, Kevin said the charity they're raising money for wants to highlight that it can cause other cancers too - in men and women alike.

He explained: “It’s actually responsible for around 5% of all cancers worldwide… anal cancer, penal cancer and head, neck and throat cancers.

“The ongoing campaign is to raise awareness, so people start vaccinating their boys as well.”

Kevin said they are aiming to win the race, but the overall goal is to raise money - at least €25,000 - to fund vaccinations against HPV.

He said: “We should get over 20,000 people vaccinated if we do raise that money.

“There’s a chance that if people become more aware of this we might be able to eradicate HPV as well.”

You can find out more on the team's GoFundMe page.

Main image: The NOMAN Ireland crew. Image via Facebook

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