Galway’s new world record holder, oarsman Ray Carroll, returns to his home city tonight (Thursday) after 43 days rowing across the Atlantic.
The Salthill native will be welcomed home by his parents Ambrose and Detta, his sisters, and members of Jigsaw Galway - the charity for which he is raising money - at a special reception in the Townhouse Bar this evening.
Along with skipper Leven Brown (37), Don Lennox (41), and Livar Nysted (39), Carroll (33) has set a new record for rowing across the North Atlantic Ocean.
It took 43 days, 21 hours, 26 minutes, and 48 seconds to complete the 3,000 miles from New York to the Scilly Isles. In doing so the crew of Artemis Investments shattered the record set in 1896 by Norwegians George Harbo and Frank Samuelsen by a massive 11 days, 15 hours, 33 minutes, and 12 seconds.
Since then rowers have made several attempts, but it was not until two Scots, a Faroe Islander, and an Irishman joined forces as part of the Artemis North Atlantic Rowing Challenge team, that this oldest record in the history of ocean rowing came to an end.
The record breakers did not have it easy since setting off from New York on June 17 in their seven-metre boat.
Working in shifts of two-hours-on/two-hours-off, the crew experienced many close shaves, including tankers, sharks, huge waves, and battering winds. The team took a “bit of a beating” one night with at least three knock downs, more than a dozen swampings, and one capsize which forced them into “survival mode” to keep the boat upright.
In addition to bouts of food poisoning, Carroll underwent “surgery” on an in-grown toenail performed by skipper Brown and a Swiss Army knife.
However among the highlights was a close encounter of a different kind - with the Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 - the flagship of the world’s most famous luxury liner. Its captain Nick Bates had organised the launching of a tender with cameramen to capture the occasion, and while the deck was lined with people cheering and waving, Carroll, using the boat’s VHF, was “patched” through to their tannoy system to talk with the crew.
Carroll has always enjoyed a close relationship with the water, having rowed since age 11 with Colaiste Iognaid, and competing for Ireland in a Junior World Championship, a European Championship, and a World Student Games. After leaving school, he trained as a marine engineer and sailed in the Merchant Navy for 12 years.
However his ocean adventures began in 2007 when he joined Brown and Lennox to break the Mid Atlantic crossing in La Mondiale. On that occasion Carroll raised more than €90,000 for depression charity Aware in memory of his brother, Aiden. This time Carroll chose the charity Jigsaw, which is a free and confidential support service for 15 to 25-year-olds in Galway city and county.