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From Napier to Gisborne in a rowboat

A RARE progressive congenital condition is not holding back the sports enthusiast in former Hawke’s Bay man Hayden Lynex.

Now living and working in Gisborne, Hayden plans to row the 170 kilometres from Napier to Gisborne to challenge himself, show others with disabilities that adventure is still possible and raise money for Disabled Snowsports Canterbury (DSC).

Hayden suffers from the slow-developing neurological condition Freidrichs Ataxia, the effects of which include lost co-ordination and balance in his legs.

The condition ended Hayden’s cricket, rugby and running days while in his teens. He recalls his last game of rugby being on his 18th birthday.

Able to walk only with the aid of a walking stick, Hayden looked for alternative sporting outlets.

He joined disability sports organisation Parafed Auckland and at a have-a-go event in 2013 he discovered a passion for rowing.

“I didn’t know what to expect but I loved it straight off.

“Rowing got me back to the point where I could take on a challenge and carry on without my legs holding me back. It felt good to challenge myself again. Through the act of having a workout you feel stronger in yourself.”

Two years after his first rowing experience, he won a national championship title.

2016 ParalympicsHe had hoped to compete in the 2016 Paralympics but his category required him to find a female rowing partner with a similar level of impairment. He could find no such partner so watching the event was a bittersweet experience.

“The times I was doing as a single rower for 1000 metres on the water were similar to what the male partners of the doubles in the Paralympics had been doing.”

In the back of his mind, though, was another challenge — long-distance rowing.

He had long been inspired by books about long-distance rowers such as 1997 Atlantic Rowing Race winners Rob Hamill and Phil Stubbs and 2010 transtasman rower Shaun Quincey.

“They talked my language,” he said.

Now he hopes to do similar talking on the ocean while raising money for a good cause.

Disabled Snowsports Canterbury is a non-profit organisation of volunteers who teach people with physical and mental disabilities how to ski.

To achieve his goal Hayden's first mission is to raise money through crowdfunding pay for the equipment he will need and for DSC.

Through his crowdfunding page givealittle.co.nz/cause/hbgizzyrow he has raised enough funds to buy his boat but needs more funds to adapt it.

On completion of his big row he will make the boat available for other people with disabilities.

To highlight his cause, Hayden plans to row 50km on a rowing machine at Anytime Fitness on Saturday, October 14.

This is likely to take five to six hours.

Meanwhile he is seeking more funding through his givealittle page to help support DSC, which has given him and many other physically-challenged people the opportunity to experience skiing.

CHALLENGE SEEKER: Despite living with a disability caused by a rare genetic condition, Gisborne resident and keen rower Hayden Lynex plans to row from Napier to Gisborne in the hope to inspire adventure in others with disabilities and raise funds for Disabled Snowsports Canterbury. Picture supplied
Hayden Lynex