JUST as the nation was celebrating the European Championships silver medal won by Cork runner, Derval O’Rourke, another Irish athlete gave Ireland something to cheer about at the weekend as part of a record-breaking rowing team.
Ray Carroll, 33, from Salthill in Galway, is among the crew that has broken a 114-year-old record for rowing across the Atlantic Ocean. The four rowers completed the voyage in 43 days and 21 hours.
The challenge team, skippered by Leven Brown, 37, from Edinburgh, left New York on 17 June in their vessel, ‘Artemis Investments’. They crossed the finishing line at St Mary’s Harbour in the Scilly Isles at around 4pm on Saturday after almost 44 days at sea.
The previous record of 55 days and 13 hours was set in 1896 by two Norwegian fishermen, George Harbo and Frank Samuelson.
Carroll described the conditions as "testing" and said he was now looking forward to relaxing. During two months at sea, the team battled 10-metre waves, a bout of food poisoning and narrowly avoided crashing into fishing boats in 35-knot winds.
Their time – 43 days, 21 hours, 26 minutes and 48 seconds – knocked 11 days off the record set by Harbo and Samuelson.
The team also included 41-year-old Don Lennox from Glasgow, 39-year-old Livar Nysted from the Faroe Islands.
Skipper Brown said: "I’m absolutely over the moon, exhausted, elated, ecstatic. I’m very proud of the lads and everybody involved in the boat and proud of the boat. She’s taken a hammering."
The four have a wealth of rowing experience. Carroll has rowed since the age of 11 and represented Ireland in a Junior World Championship, a European Championship and a World Student Games.
He trained as a marine engineer and sailed in the Merchant Navy for 12 years before becoming a ship manager with Irish Ferries in Dublin.
He was also a member of the 2007/08 world record breaking crew with Brown and Lennox who broke the Mid Atlantic crossing time in 33 days.
The crew also managed to set a new 24-hour record of 118 miles (189.86km) on July 14, previously held at 117 miles by Brown and his team in La Mondiale on the Trade Winds route on January 3, 2008.
The four hope their efforts will have raised thousands of pounds for charity, with the money donated to be shared between The National Autistic Society, Help for Heroes, Jigsaw and the Irish depression charity Aware.
Carroll is particularly anxious to raise funds for Aware to commemorate his brother, Aidan, who died 10 years ago.
* Donations to Aware can be made online at www.aware.ie, by phone at 01-6617211 or by post to 72 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2.