Four injured ex-servicemen including a Cambridgeshire man injured in Afghanistan have been selected to become the first all-amputee team to row the Atlantic.
Paddy Gallagher, 30, is among the four military veterans who will battle the elements and extreme mental and physical hardship when they take on the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, dubbed the world’s toughest rowing race, later this year.
The Row2Recovery team will be led by Cayle Royce, who took part in the 3,000-mile race two years ago after suffering serious injuries serving in Afghanistan that put him in a coma for more than a month.
Trooper Royce will be joined by Paddy Gallagher who was injured in Afghanistan while serving with the Irish Guards; 56-year-old Nigel Rogof from Hereford, who lost his leg while taking part in an RAF parachuting display; and 46-year-old Lee Spencer, from Yelverton in Devon, who lost a leg when he was struck by debris when he stopped to rescue a seriously injured motorist on the M3 in January last year.
Trooper Royce, 29, from Dartmouth in Devon, said he was relishing the prospect of skippering the all-amputee team.
He said: “The amputations shouldn’t have too much of an effect on us.
“We’re missing a number of limbs - I think we have three legs between us- and 60% of rowing is all leg work.
“In that sense we will have to work a bit harder.
“But I think we will still be competitive.
“Sea conditions will dictate a lot of how the race progresses, so I think it will be an exciting challenge and I think the other crews will have a bit of competition.
“The great thing about military guys is that they’re keen for another challenge.
“If they’re keen before injury, they’re keen after.
“It really didn’t take that much convincing to get these guys involved.”
Some 16 teams took part in the last race, two years ago, which sets off from La Gomera in the Canary Islands and finishes roughly six weeks later in Antigua.
Renowned for its tough conditions, participants typically row in two-hour shifts, with two-hour rest periods, for 24 hours a day.
Competitors burn around 8,000 calories daily and lose roughly 20% of their body weight over the duration of the race.
Alongside physical exertion, the rowers will face 40ft waves, tropical storms, sleep deprivation, sweltering heat and the psychological challenges of living and working in a turbulent natural environment.
Colour Sergeant Spencer, originally from Dagenham, said: “There’s going to be days of boredom, days of just rowing, days when you’re going to be frightened.
“What I’m looking forward to most is bonding as a team, that’s something we really do well in the military.
“It’s something that I really enjoy.”
The team will be raising money for Help for Heroes, Blemsa, Prince Harry’s Endeavour Fund and Row2Recovery.
:: For more information, visit row2recovery.com.