First all-amputee rowing team cross the Atlantic

It has been a fairly quiet week in terms of powerboat news following the announcement of championship calendars and today’s story is slightly off topic but illustrates superb human strength and will to succeed, writes Richard Carr.


The team of four amputee military serviceman, which included an Irishman named Paddy Gallagher from Achill Island and three Englishman, rowed for more than 5,500km across the Atlantic Ocean to arrive in Antigua earlier this month.

Gallagher set off from the Canary Islands in December alongside Cayle Royce, Nigel Rogoff and Lee Spencer to take on the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge.

Following seven weeks of gruelling rowing and being away from their families over Christmas and New Year, they became the first all amputee team to complete the voyage.


Mr Gallagher, 30, moved to the UK to join the Irish Guardsman during his 20s. Sadly, in 2009, he lost his right leg below his knee in an IED blast in Afghanistan. The Atlantic Challenge wasn’t his first big row though, as he had previously sailed the Arctic Circle.

The team’s leader, Cayle Royce, remarkably completed the feat as a double amputee. Like Gallagher, Royce suffered his injuries in an IED blast in Afghanistan.

Nigel Rogoff, a former RAF flight sergeant, lost his leg during a parachuting display, whilst Lee Spencer a former UK Royal Marine lost his leg after being hit by flying debris as he was helping to save the life of a motorist.


Spokeswoman for the team Lucy Northmore said the men faced extremely tough conditions during the race and burned about 8,000 calories daily. “They won’t be able to put their prosthetic legs back on as they’ll have lost about 20 per cent of their body weight,” she said from Antigua.

“It’s no fun and very hard, much harder than people actually realise,” explained Ms Northmore. “It’s difficult even for the military. They have been caught in storms when they had to lock themselves into a tiny airtight cabin. With the waves and the swell they’re very vulnerable.”