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HOME AND DRY; EXCLUSIVE Stranded Irish rowers arrive home ..and start planning fresh record bid.

Byline: BY SARAH BARDON

FIVE Irish men who were stranded at sea in gale force winds have finally arrived home - and are already planning to do it all again.

The sailors were trying to set a record by rowing across both the North and South Atlantic Oceans.

But their boat was hit by a whale two weeks ago and left without a rudder.

The men were stranded for 24 hours before calling for help.

DJ Ian McKeever from Co Dublin told the Irish Daily Mirror yesterday: "We arrived home last Saturday. We were rescued by the Island Royal bulk carrier which was travelling to Turin in Italy.

"But it took 12 days. As soon as we got home, it was straight back to the drawing board for me.

"I will complete it. It is not over until it is over.

"We don't know yet whether the boat is salvageable but either way I am going back.

"I set myself a challenge and I am determined to finish it."

Ian was joined by four top Irish rowers - Peter Williams and Breffney Morgan from Cork, and Robbie Byrne and Ryan Corcoran from Dublin - plus eight rowers from Britain and the Faroe Islands.

But Breffney w will not be rejoining Ian on his travels on La Mondaile.

He said: "I can't re-do it, I have to move on with my life.

"The time we had on the boat was great and it is a pity that we didn't finish it.

"But I can't imagine going back out there any time soon."

Ian said: "It is sad to hear that. I don't know if all the other Irish lads will come with me.

"But Peter and Robbie seem as excited I am to get back out to sea."

The crew left Gran Canaria on January 3 and were hoping to make it to Barbados in less than 33 days.

They were a third of the way into their journey when they collided with the whale.

Ian said: "We were gutted that we couldn't finish the journey but we are very privileged and very proud that we made it as far as we did.

Everybody wanted it, we were all committed to it.

"But we are safe and that is the main thing.

"We were going extremely well, we were three days ahead of schedule, all the winds had been working in favour.

"We were so close to breaking the record that it makes me determined to finish the journey.

"You can look at it in two ways - you can be bitter or you can do better and I will do better."

Ian added: "We were doing this for a worthwhile cause and I would encourage everybody to still give generously to the charities.

"I was rowing for the Irish Red Cross and would just hope that everyone still gives generously."

To donate, please log on to www.mycharity.ie/event/ianmckeever.

CAPTION(S):

SAFE The rescued rowers on board the Island Ranger; RELIEVED Ian McKeever and friends arrive in Gibraltar; DRAMA Mirror reports ordeal; ON THEIR WAY Crew on board tug after rescue
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 31, 2009
Words:519
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