FORGET the Naked Chef, say hello to the Naked Adventurer from Athy, who heads off across the globe to become the youngest male in the world to row the Indian Ocean solo and the first Irish person to row the Indian ocean ever.
The challenge will see 30 year-old Keith Whelan row 12 hours every day for the 120 days he will be at sea. That’s 1.8 million oar strokes in searing heat, massive ocean swells and vicious storms.
The Kildare man has been in training for two years with the rowing club in Carlow and in the Talbot Hotel gym. He has also received expert coaching from former world champion and US coach, Toby Garbett.
“I had never even rowed a boat before this time two years ago. When I was back in school in Scoil Eoin in Athy - I think the name’s been changed since then and it has been amalgamated - I heard about two people who rowed across the ocean and I said I would love to do that. I would love to take on that challenge,” he said.
So the question beckons, why do it naked?
“It will take four months to do it and the salt from the sea gets onto your clothes and it hardens, and rubs off your skin causing salt sores. It’s really very functional and most rowers row naked on long journeys. I will be putting a sheepskin rug under me to keep my backside in good order,” he added.
He won’t need to worry about getting sunburnt as an Australia company is supplying him with the best sun cream in the business.
Keith says his dad is really excited about his adventure while his mum is understandably a bit nervous.
“My mum is obviously worried about it. She is asking me lots of questions but she is very supportive,” stressed Keith.
“As it stands more people have walked on the moon then have rowed across the Indian Ocean. I’m hoping to get the spotlight of achievement back on Ireland with this world record, and of course raise much needed funds for my chosen charity “Keep a Child Alive.”
Keith will depart Ireland in just under three weeks for Western Australia where he will launch his 23ft long boat Ocean rowing boat on March 31 and begin his challenge. The boat is just six foot wide at its widest point. It carries 150 litres of ballast water which will helps to flip the boat back up the right way in the event of a capsize. On-board solar panels provide energy to run the very limited electrical equipment on board such as the water maker, GPS, Satellite phone, VHF radio and AIS system.
Keith will be completely alone at sea and unaided by any other vessel. To achieve his world record, he must row to longitudinal point near Mauritius, without having been touched by anyone other than Keith. In the event of an emergency, there is an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) on board in addition to PLB (Personal Locating Beacon) along with a life raft should the worst happen
“Obviously the lighter the load the better” added Keith,
“Most of the gear on board will be absolutely essential equipment, dehydrated food and about 500 bars of chocolate. I will be bringing one or two photos and will probably stick some messages from people and some inspirational quotes on the inside of the cabin. The main message over the aft cabin door, the one I will be facing as I’m rowing will read “pain is temporary but quitting lasts forever”!”
Keith will be blogging, updating his facebook page and tweeting throughout his journey. You can also see his real-time location on www.thenakedadventurer.com The challenge is kindly supported by Fyffes, Rowhire, Powerbar, Timex and Relinquish Clothing amongst other generous contributors. Additional sponsors are always welcome as are donations to Keep a Child Alive.