Irish Solo Rower, Dr. Karen Weekes has completed her Record-Breaking Bid to be the 1st Irish woman to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean.
After beginning her journey in Gran Canaria, Canary Islands on the 6th of December of last year, Karen has finished her journey, arriving in Barbados yesterday, the 24th of February 2022, after a lengthy 80 days at sea.
Karen was welcomed into a bustling Bridgetown, Barbados, at 6:30pm (Barbados time GMT-4) as crowds gathered to cheer the Irishwoman on as she arrived into the port. 30 of Karen’s friends, family and colleagues flew over to Barbados with Aer Lingus at the weekend to witness and celebrate her achievement. In true Bajan style, a welcome party was organised to celebrate Karen’s arrival to Barbados and her achievement of becoming the first Irish female to row any ocean solo and the 20th female in the world to row any ocean solo. Karen was greeted by Barbados Minister for Sport, Charles Griffith, and Jens Thraenhart, the CEO of Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc., who then presented her with a gift of Bajan rum to acknowledge her astonishing achievement.
After officially becoming the first Irish woman to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean, Dr. Karen Weeke’s said “I’m really not into records but I love that fact that I’m making a little of bit of history.I love the fact that I’m making a bit of history for my family name, which is Weekes. So Irish history and Weekes history is a big thing”.
Commenting on her incredible achieve,ement, Dr. Karen Weekes said “I’ve done a lot of endurance journeys before this, so this [was] really the next logical step for me – a feat of endurance to try and push myself mentally and physically further”.
Freelance Irish Journalist Isabel Conway is in Barbados covering the story and is available to assist Irish print and broadcast media. Ali Finnegan of TravelMedia.ie and BTMI UK and Ireland is also in Barbados, please contact Ali on WhatsApp at +353860492394 for more information.
Karen’s main sponsor Hanley Energy spoke of their joy as she reached the finish line “The Hanley Energy team are thrilled to see Karen reach the finish line of her endeavour and become the first Irish woman to row solo 3,000 miles across the Atlantic. Karen’s endurance, strength and patience throughout her 80 days at sea is truly inspiring.”
We enjoy supporting non-mainstream sports that have an endurance aspect and Karen’s SHECANDO2021 campaign definitely aligned closely with our sponsorship values and principles. We have a history of backing Irish teams and sports people accomplish the impossible and as lead sponsors of the SHECANDO2021 campaign, we’re extremely proud of Karen and her support team on this fantastic achievement.”
Karen has been 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 / 6442 kms, circumnavigating Ireland by Kayak (1,000 miles) and climbing Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya in Africa
Karen’s journey across the Atlantic was documented on social media through the #SHECANDO2021 campaign. Through this 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. Full details of the #SHECANDO2021 campaign can be found on Karen’s website: https://shecando2021.org/
Karen has also used the #SHECANDO2021 campaign to highlight two very worthy charities. Her team have set up a GoFundMe page where she is raising funds for the RNLI and Laura Lynn Foundation. Link to the fundraising campaign can he found here.
Karen speaks of her motivations behind starting the #SHECANDO2021 campaign. “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”.
To get Karen across the Atlantic, with people sharing the journey, through the preparatory and ‘action’ phases of the row.
Provide a platform for encouraging women, and girls, to push themselves outside their current comfort zone and to believe in their abilities to succeed both in their work and everyday lives.
Increase female participation in adventure sports.
Illuminate two of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, specifically ‘gender equality’ and ‘life below water’, which focuses on the conservation of oceans and marine life. The #SHECANDO2021 team are working hard to ensure these underpinning philosophies remain prevalent throughout the entire campaign.
For more information on Karen Weekes journey to Barbados, please contact Ciara Dunne firstname.lastname@example.org
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