Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tom Hernon: Whirlwind in a Wheelchair


A few days ago I was in a state of mild despair. I was receiving reports back from the electrician in Hawaii about the state of my boat's wiring - and the news was all bad. Chartplotter antenna - "corroded". VHF radio - "damaged beyond repair". Radio and amp - "I would change them out". And so on... "a nightmare"... "a complete mess"... "really rough shape". He ended with the rather puzzling question: "Did any of this equipment get exposed to lots of salt water???" Errr, well, yes. That's what tends to happen when you roll your boat in 20-foot waves. Repeatedly.

Just when I most needed it, I received this email:

Hi Roz I contacted you just before stage 1 of your trip offering to fab anything you need in my machine shop, I am also a engineer and can help you solve any mech problems you might have...all I ask is a link to my web site www.back2sports.net.

thanks and good luck Tom

My knight in shining armour had arrived. Enter Tom Hernon, the latest recruit to Team Savage. I checked out his bio and read that at the age of 34 a dirt bike accident had left him paralysed from the waist down, but that he had gone on to compete at a high level on the mono ski and luge - hitting a top speed of 79mph on the luge (imagine it!).

And luckily for me, Tom is now bringing his incredible energy and problem-solving abilities to bear on the beleaguered Brocade.

Since that first email 4 days ago, he has visited his local university in Michigan to pick the brains of the professors of engineering and metallurgy, teamed up with a local rowing club to "find out what is fashionable", produced sketches and designs, and peppered me with questions to get himself up to speed on the unique challenges facing equipment on board an ocean rowboat. As my friend Steve Roberts once quipped, "Water corrodes, and saltwater corrodes absolutely".

My "job" occasionally seems tough and lonely, but it always seems that just when obstacles appear insurmountable, life gives me a break, the obstacles disappear, and my faith is restored. You might call it luck, or you might call it the law of attraction, or you might say that I worked blimmin' hard to throw myself in the way of good fortune - but whatever you call it, it makes me glad to be alive. It is the biggest perk of my job - to have special people like Tom wanting to share in the adventure.

Speaking of which... thank you to the hordes of people who are sharing in my adventure by signing up to receive this blog by email through Feedblitz. It's brilliant to know that you still care, even though I am deep in the off-season at the moment. Believe me, there is much in gestation, ready to burst into life next year - not only the new website, but the Atlantic book (now titled, finally, LIMITLESS HORIZON: My Unlikely Adventure From Office To Ocean), the accompanying short film, new merchandise, an iPhone application, an iGoogle Gadget, and a very important and exciting new challenge that I'll be inviting you to join - I can guarantee you there won't be a dull moment!

[Photo: Tom Hernon on his luge. He appears to have his eyes closed, but so would I if I was going at 79mph with my head 6 inches from the ground!]
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2 comments:

  1. Fantastic! Great when you catch the wave just right and both oars find the water. And I hope you have grand birthday and christmas next week. You're one of the few discovering and sharing the key to a more wonderful everyday. Others.
    Thank You

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, AH. 41 years old soon - times flies when you're having fun!

    ReplyDelete

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