A college lecturer and sportswoman will attempt to become the first Irish female to row solo across the Atlantic when she sets off this December.
Dr. Karen Weekes aims to be the first Irish female to row solo 3,000 miles across the Atlantic, unsupported by any safety vessel. The route will be from Gran Canaria to Barbados and the journey is expected to take approximately 70 days.
Karen will embark on the adventure in mid-December 2021.
If successful, Karen will become the first Irish female to row any ocean solo, and the 20th female in the world to row an ocean solo. The lead sponsor for this event is Hanley Energy. Other sponsors include Munster Technological University, Somex Automation, Collins Campers, Jim McKee Art, Kinvara Skincare and Rowing Ireland
Karen is a lecturer at Munster Technological University since 2004 on the Health and Leisure degree. With a PhD in sport psychology, Karen has worked extensively with both elite and non-elite athletes, specialising within the endurance genre.
Endurance exploits have been a passion for Karen for all her life and has included both water and land based journeys, including cycling solo across Canada (Vancouver to Halifax) 4003 miles, circumnavigation of Ireland in a sea-kayak (1,000 miles) and climbing Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya in Africa.
Through the #SHECANDO2021 campaign, Karen aims to encourage females to push themselves outside their comfort zones. Furthermore she aims to bring awareness of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – specifically gender equality and ocean conservation and sustainability.
Karen said: “The boat is called Millie, after my mother. She was a very positive person and it would be nice to have her along the way…it would be meaningful”
“The only way this boat propels is by my power. The reason you go down so far south [towards the Cape Verdes] is to try to catch the trade winds, so they should help me across as well, but primarily it be from me rowing”
“When I really get into the rhythm of things, I would hope to be rowing about 16 hours a day and then the rest of the time is feeding yourself, sleeping, doing navigation and doing updates for home”
“When I was cycling across Canada, I was looking up other female solo cyclists who had crossed Canada. I thought I would relate better to seeing how a female coped with it. There really wasn’t many. I think having somebody who has done it before makes it easier for other women so my plan, as part of the SHECANDO campaign, is to provide a platform for other girls and women to do things that push them outside their comfort zone”
“I’ve done a lot of endurance journeys before this so this is really the next logical step for me – a feat of endurance to try and push myself mentally and physically further,” she said.
There will be an official launch of the #SHECANDO2021 campaign, along with Karen Weekes’ Ocean Rowing Boat ‘Millie’, by Dr. Una May of Sport Ireland at 5pm on the 9th October 2021 at Kinvara Quay, Co. Galway and all are welcome.