Scot becomes youngest person to row Pacific

Scot Michael Prendergast sprays champagne over team-mate Jordan Godoy as Robert Behny, left, and  Evan Buckland look on. Picture: contributed
Scot Michael Prendergast sprays champagne over team-mate Jordan Godoy as Robert Behny, left, and Evan Buckland look on. Picture: contributed

A Scot has become the youngest person to row the Pacific in the world’s “ultimate” endurance challenge.

Michael Prendergast completed the gruelling crossing from California to Honolulu with his three American team-mates in 49 days, 23 hours and 15 minutes.

The 23-year-old undertook the task to raise money for Down’s Syndrome Scotland because his younger brother, Andrew, has the condition. Mr Prendergast, who lives near Spynie Castle in Moray, was part of the “Uniting Nations” team who were the first to cross the finish line of the Great Pacific Race in their 7 x 1.8 metre boat, Isabel.

Along with team-mates Robert Behny, Evan Buckland and Jordan Godoy, Mr Prendergast reached Hawaii at 2.15pm local time on 27 July. As they turned the final corner into the marina, a single bagpiper played them in.

He said: “Mentally, it was the toughest challenge I could ever do. The two hours on, two hours off pattern was relentless. There was never a chance to relax and if I was lying down for more than an hour-and-a-half, I was having a lie-in.”

Mr Pendergast’s father Peter said his family got up in the “small hours” of Friday morning to watch his son and the rest of the crew cross the finishing line on a live feed.

He added: “It was a really emotional moment for all the family and we were so proud to see what Michael and his team-mates achieved.”

As they neared the shore, Mr Pendergast helped team-mate Robert Behny unfurl a banner asking his girlfriend to marry him. After she said “yes”, they celebrated on the pontoon and tucked into their first full meal in seven weeks. Mr Pendergast ate a hamburger followed by a steak – all the team-members suffered hallucinations during the 3000 mile journey and during a difficult spell when the crew were rowing for two hours on and one hour off, Mr Pendergast thought that he was in a pub and a waitress was about to bring him fish and chips.

He has raised £7,000 towards his target of £40,000 for Down’s Syndrome Scotland and he hopes his remarkable achievement will help him raise the remainder.

He added: “I am passionate about raising funds for Down’s Syndrome Scotland because of the support they have given my brother. Andrew is a very happy young man but everyday, simple tasks can be major obstacles for him.

“The daily struggles and pressure that my family is under to give Andrew the care that he needs is unimaginable. I’d love to achieve my goal of raising £40,000 so the charity can continue to support these special members of our community.”