Northern Ireland

Solo rower Shirley Thompson starts Atlantic attempt

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionShirley Thompson expects the voyage to take her three months

A 60-year-old Belfast woman has started her bid to become the oldest woman to row solo across the Atlantic.

Shirley Thompson expects the voyage to take her three months.

She spent the last 24 hours stocking up on fresh produce to eat and drink during the first five days of the voyage. After that, she will be relying on packet food.

"I'm feeling really excited and, of course, nervous," she told BBC News NI before she set off on Monday morning.

"I've been building up for this for eight months but now I just want to cast off."

Until recently Ms Thompson could not swim, but she is an experienced endurance runner and extremely fit.

Image caption Shirley Thompson had rowed five miles by midday on Monday - she has 2,995 miles to go

She will not have any boat support, and will be relying on a passing ship to pick her up if she capsizes.

Her chosen route covers 3,000 nautical miles from Gran Canaria to St Barts in the Caribbean.

Even though it is the start of winter in Europe, there are favourable trade winds at this time of year for a trans-Atlantic crossing.

She plans to take her time.

"I have no interest in rowing through storms, I just want to get as far as I can safely," she said.

"This is pleasure for me. This is my treat - it's my 60th birthday present for me.

"I am a woman of 60 years of age and I want to show that a woman of 60 can do anything she puts her mind to."

If all goes according to plan, she will spend Christmas in the mid-Atlantic and arrive in the Caribbean by the end of February.

Related Topics

More on this story