Rowers rescued hours from breaking records

Rowers rescued hours from breaking records

Atlantic rowers, Brian Conville from Dublin, and Joseph Gagnon from Canada, who were dramatically rescued 170km of the Kerry coast by the Coast Guard, pictured at University Hospital Tralee last night. Picture: Don MacMonagle

A crushing defeat in the battle of man versus nature was witnessed on Friday when two rowers, who were set to break four world records in their voyage across the North Atlantic had to be rescued off the coast of Mizen Head.

Brian Conville, 25, from Dublin and Joseph Gagnon, 20, from Quebec, Canada, were 165 miles off the coast of Cork when their boat capsized and exposed them to the ferocious elements of the Atlantic Ocean.

An EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) alerted the Coast Guard to the incident and Waterford based helicopter R117 came to their aid.

The pair were plucked from the sea and taken to Tralee Hospital where they received care.


The call of distress was first made at 10.30am as the pair looked set to become the first duo to cross the Atlantic from Canada in under 40 days.

For the past 23 days, the two lads have been taking turns rowing both day and night since leaving St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada.

The rowers had originally planned to journey to France, but a combination of weather and injury difficulties meant they were forced to divert to Cork.

Unfortunately, they ran into difficulty and had to be rescued, dashing their hopes of historic glory in one fierce, wet, wild, swipe.

The two rowers, Brian Conville and Joseph Gagnon, awaiting rescue by the Coast Guard helicopter. Picture: Irish Coast Guard
The two rowers, Brian Conville and Joseph Gagnon, awaiting rescue by the Coast Guard helicopter. Picture: Irish Coast Guard

Both Brian and Joseph’s parents were in Dublin when the rescue mission got underway and the families made their way to Tralee to see the lads once they were taken to safety around lunch time.

Brian’s brother Michael said this was his second time taking off in a boat across the sea. 

"Last year he rowed the Pacific from California to Hawaii with two others as part of the Great Pacific Race 2016."

Michael described his brother, who is a builder by trade, as an “adrenaline junkie."

Speaking about the rescue Coast Guard’s SAR Manager Gerard O’Flynn said: “It highlights that if you can raise the alarm and stay afloat then you stand a very good chance of being rescued."

"I also want to compliment the Helicopter crew and Valentia on a very successful operation and thank the Air Corps for their support.”

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