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Waikato University Rowing Skipper Tackles Atlantic

Waikato University Rowing Skipper To Tackle Atlantic

Fresh from leading the Waikato University rowing eight to victory in the Great Race against Oxford University, skipper James Fitzgerald is now set to become the youngest rower ever to compete in the trans-Atlantic contest next month.

Fitzgerald, 23, has been selected in the Holiday Shoppe Challenge team for the trans-Atlantic rowing challenge, which is due to get underway on 19 October and take up to 40-60 days. The team will be managed by Rob Hamill, one of the winners of the inaugural race in 1997.

Fitzgerald’s biggest concern is the sleep deprivation involved in having to row two hours on, two hours off, 24 hours a day.

“I’m expecting that to take its toll heavily. The longest thing I’ve done before is a 36-hour long multisport event.”

But despite his initial anxiety about the physical hazards, plus the dangers of whales, floating containers and storms, Fitzgerald says he’s keen to go.

“Now I’m just looking at it as an opportunity to have the most incredible experience. I’ve heard I’m the youngest ever to compete.

“One of the keys to a successful race will be not going too hard out too soon.”

Fitzgerald had been the crew’s reserve but was elevated to the starting line-up recently due to injury.

The race will begin in the Canary Islands off the coast of West Africa and finish in Barbados after some 2900 miles. ‘Home’ for Fitzgerald and his crewmate will be a 7m by 1.9m dinghy.

Fitzgerald is a student at Waikato University’s School of Management. Rob Hamill says: “It’s great to have a rower of James’ calibre aboard. I’m sure he’ll prove a highly effective crew member.”

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