By Jimmy Rhatigan
IT IS the kind of challenge that the famous A-Team, a crew of special force soldiers, would relish.
It will be a grueling mission but one that is close to the hearts of a team of kayakers, including a quartet of courage from our city.
Sea farers from Kilkenny, Wexford and Cork leave from the coast of Wexford for St David’s Head in Wales on July 8.
In four single sea-kayaks our hardy water wonders will battle the waves in aid of the suicide prevention charity ‘3T’s’, Turn The Tide of Suicide.
The amateur kayak team is a group of friends and members of Kilkenny Aqua Canoe Club.
Included are business owner Liam Anthony Griffin, and Irish Defence Force members Private Stephen Happe, Signalman Aaron Kearney and Private David Feehan.
Liam Anthony has been a dedicated sea and river kayaker since his teens.
“We are amateur kayakers who often train together and we wanted to undertake a team challenge,” said Anthony.
“This idea came up and stepped up as we felt it was very important to raise awareness and funds for the suicide prevention charity.
“Crossing will be a challenge, we hope weather will be good but we will be prepared for all eventualities.”
Private Stephen has been kayaking for over 18 years. He is a soldier in Stephens Barracks.
He is also the Training and Development Officer at Kilkenny Aqua Canoe Club and Defence Forces Kayak Club.
“We are excited by this challenge but the charity selection was also very important to us. We are at an age where at some point each of us has been impacted by suicide.
“It is all too frequent, we felt strongly that raising money but, more importantly, raising prevention awareness was also vital.”
Signalman Aaron Kearney is based in Collins Barracks, Cork. He has been kayaking for over a decade.
He said Liam Anthony came up with the kayak challenge, trying something different and that really appealed to and others who enlisted.
“I have lost friends and colleagues in the last 5 or 6 years, so it was important for me to get behind this challenge.”
Private David is also based at Stephens Barracks and is secretary of the Defence Forces Kayak Club. Though he has been kayaking for over 10 years, he took up sea kayaking only in the last two months .
The pals have been training for months and have undertaken a series of exercises and challenges.
On July 8 the friends of courage leave at dawn. It will take at least 13 hours to complete the 100km course.
Their mentors include global adventure kayaker Mick O’Meara and they have completed navigational training with Dermot Greer of Sailing Ireland.
Boat owner and skipper Pascal Ryan and chef Derry Clarke are providing and manning their support vessel.
Progress and donations: https://rosslare-to-wales-kayak.everydayhero.com/ie/kayak-challange-ireland-to-wales