A 30-YEAR-OLD IRISHMAN has announced plans to become the youngest man to ever row solo across the Indian Ocean – and the first Irish man ever to navigate the route alone.
But there’s one particularly unusual thing about Keith Whelan’s quest, which will see him row single-handedly from Australia to Mauritius: he’s going to do it while totally naked.
The Kildare native – an event management consultant based in Laois – has been preparing for his 120-day trek for around 18 months, and will be rowing for about 12 hours every day during that time: two hours on, two hours off, for four months solid.
He estimates that the entire 6,000-kilometre trek will take about 1.8 million oar strokes, and that his trek will expose him to searing heat and ocean storms – but is adamant that he will remain unclothed for the entire trek.
He’ll make the entire journey in a 23-foot Ocean rowing boat which is just 6 feet wide at its widest point, which will be fitted with a GPS unit and satellite phone allowing Keith to communicate with terra firma.
On-board solar panels will allow him to run his limited stash of electrical equipment, which also includes a water maker and VHF radio – as well as enough gear to keep him blogging, updating his Facebook page, and tweeting despite his remote location.
It’ll also be carrying 150 litres of ballast water – which will help the boat to regain its correct orientation if it capsizes, though it will also mean a heavier boat that will take a greater physical effort to shift.
To achieve the world record, he will have to row to the longitudinal point near Maurius – 58°E – without his boat being touched by any other mechanism or human.
“Obviously the lighter the load, the better,” Keith explains, possibly not referring to his decision to shed the apparent burden of clothing. “Most of the gear on board will be essential equipment, dehydrated food and about 500 bars of chocolate.”
He will also bring a few photographs, he says, and some messages and inspirational phrases to put inside his cabin.
“The main message over the raft cabin door, the one I will be facing as I’m rowing, will read: ‘Pain is temporary, but quitting lasts forever’.”
The challenge has a more philanthropic goal too, however: Keith hopes to raise €10,000 for anti-AIDS charity Keep A Child Alive, for whom he has already run the New York Marathon.
Donations can be offered through his website, thenakedaventurer.com, which will also keep a live log of his position when he sets off next month.