Atlantic rower’s bid ends in injury

1400 crop niall iain macdonald on his purpose-built rowing boat alliance trust at samh in glasgow

Niall Iain Macdonald who has had to abandon his epic fundraising attempt after being struck by a wave

Paul Cardwell's photo

17th June 2014 by Paul Cardwell 0 Comments

A Scotsman trying to row solo across the Atlantic to raise over £100,000 for a mental health charity had to be rescued by the US Coastguard just 100 miles into his journey.

I am so sorry that I was unable to complete my row. I'm heartbroken.

Niall Iain Macdonald suffered head and back injuries after being knocked over by a wave on Friday, just nine days after he set off on his 3,400-mile journey from New York to Stornoway (NY2SY) in aid of the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH).

“This wave just caught me unawares,” he said.

“I was in terrible pain and even the smallest movement was causing me to call out.

“It was clear that I wasn’t going to be able to continue rowing and that I may well have suffered a serious spinal injury.

“Given the circumstances, I felt that the only option was to call the coastguard and ask for help.”

Macdonald was picked up at around 11pm and taken back to a New York hospital and checked over.

Doctors treated him for an acute muscle spasm and a cut to his head.

He continued: “I am so sorry that I was unable to complete my row. I can’t really describe what it is like to have worked so hard to get to the start of NY2SY and then for it to end like this, I’m heartbroken.

“I have given serious thought to continuing my row … but I have decided that this just isn’t viable or wise so I will have to abandon my attempt to row across the north Atlantic this year.”

Despite not making it across, Macdonald's Just Giving page shows he has raised just under £20,000 for SAMH - with donors continuing to praise his bravery and raising awareness of mental health problems.