Mo O’Brien, a 60-year-old pharmacy worker, has become the first Deaf person to row an ocean after completing a 3,000-mile journey across the Atlantic ocean.
Mo, alongside her daughter, Bird Watts, 32, and their friend, Claire Allinson, 45, reached the Caribbean island of Antigua 49 days, 13 hours and 49 minutes after starting from the Canary Island of La Gomera in December.
They also became the fastest female trio to complete the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge. In the process, they rowed in pairs for four-hour shifts and then took two hours to rest.
Receiving the news, Mo told BBC News that she felt “relieved,” and when speaking to race organisers after they confirmed both records at the finish line in Antigua, she said: “I’m relieved to be here, but I kind of wish I was still out there, too. I absolutely loved it.”
While she faced a number of challenges while competing, including seasickness, being hit by flying fish, being thrown around by large waves, and battling extreme sleep deprivation, Mo said that the experience was “very much a learning curve” for the crew to when it came to managing her Deafness.
Her daughter Bird told the BBC: “We just do our best. We have certain hand signals that mean certain things. And for example, if she’s in the cabin in stormy weather, she doesn’t come out unless we tell her.
“Every challenge you might think of that you might encounter on a boat, we also have to think how to overcome for someone who can’t hear.”
Mo also said that she wanted to mark turning 60 years old by doing “something bigger, something more challenging” than previous endurance events she has taken part in, including a marathon and a charity cycle in Kenya.
In terms of the journey, she added: “The racing and the wind and the sea… it felt like you were going at about 100 miles an hour. I loved that feeling, the freedom – almost feeling like you’re a part of the sea. It sounds corny, I know, but I’ve never experienced that before.”Get your copy of PosAbility Magazine
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