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ROWERS HIT BY A WHALE AND LEFT STRANDED AT SEA; Atlantic record charity bid wrecked by giant mammal.

Byline: BY SARAH BARDON

FIVE Irish sailors spent 24 hours drifting in gale-force winds amid eight-metre waves after being hit by a whale and left without a rudder.

The group were 1,000 miles south of Gran Canaria when the giant mammal struck but managed to steer manually for 240kms before deciding to get help.

DJ Ian McKeever from Co Dublin told the Irish Daily Mirror yesterday: "We were met with huge resistance.

"We were hit by something underneath and lost our rudder. There was a number of whales spotted earlier in the day so we believe we were hit by a whale.

"We tried to create a rudder from the dagger board and we managed to steer for 150 miles.

"Our captain Levan Brown navigated. But we just couldn't function without a rudder - trying to steer a four-tonne boat with one set of hands is just not possible.

"We might have managed more in calm waters but in the horrible weather conditions, we just couldn't do it."

Ian was part of a crew of 12 trying to complete a record-breaking row across both the north and south Atlantic Oceans.

They left Gran Canaria on January 3 and were attempting to make it to Barbados in less than 33 days. They were a third of the way into their journey. He added: "We were going extremely well, we were three days ahead of schedule, all the winds had been working in our favour.

"Ryan was the real leader on the boat - himself and Levan were outstanding.

"But on our 10th day, the crew and captain made the decision that our goal was no longer achievable and we requested assistance.

"On Thursday night at 8pm, we boarded the Island Royal bulk carrier."

Ian was with 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.

Each one rowed two-hours-on-two-hours-off every day, 12 hours a day. Ian said: "This crew had worked so hard and were so disappointed that we couldn't finish it.

"But we are very privileged and very proud we made it this far and we are now looking forward to getting home and starting to plan our next train.

"Everybody wanted it. But we are safe and that is the main thing." The crew are now on their way to Turin in Italy but will not arrive until January 25.

Ian added: "We were doing this for a worthy 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, visit to www.mycharity.ie/event/ianmckeever.

We tried to create a rudder from a board and we managed to steer for about 150 miles

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DISAPPOINTED Ian; HERE WE GO Crew leaving Gran Canaria at start of record bid
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 17, 2009
Words:491
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