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Solo Across The Atlantic

In December 2019, 61-year-old Shirley Thompson from Belfast will set off from the Canaries to row 3,000 nautical miles across the Atlantic Ocean. Shirley is hoping to take the record for the oldest female to row solo across an ocean, as well as the first Irish female to row solo across an ocean.


The Challenge

Date: December 2019

Location: Atlantic Ocean: Gran Canaria (Puerto de Mogan) to The Caribbean (St. Barts)
Distance: 3000 miles
Duration: 90+ days
Boat: 7 metre rowing boat called RV Amigo
Likely to encounter: The mighty Atlantic: high seas, extreme weather, darkness, sharks, whales, sea turtles and flying fish

Shirley will depart from Puerto de Mogan in the Canary Islands and travel 3,000 nautical miles to St. Barts in the Caribbean. She will make the crossing in a Pure Class boat, which is 1.8 meters wide and around 7m long and fully equipped with the latest Simrad equipment, to guide her safely to St. Barts. Depending on the Tradewinds the journey will take her around 90 days.

Onboard Amigo

Who is Shirley Thompson?

Shirley Thompson was born in Belfast and spent most of her working life as a stewardess on private jets. At the age of 42 she discovered running and quickly became hooked on running long distances and was soon taking part in ultra runs in extreme environments: The desert, the mountains, Antarctica and the Jungle. In 2004 Shirley became the pioneer of Jungle races and set up the legendary Jungle Marathon. She has been a hands-on race organiser since its inception and has dedicated all her spare time to it for the past 14 years.


Why take on the Atlantic?

Shirley turned 61 in 2019 and to mark the occasion she wanted to take on a new challenge that was completely outside of her comfort zone. She has conquered many hostile environments, but the Ocean will be a new and exciting test!


What sort of training have you done?

Incredibly, Shirley was unable to swim or row at the beginning of 2018 – so the journey to taking on this challenge began with her getting to grips with the water. As an ultra-runner Shirley’s fitness is exceptional, running 10-15km a day! Before the delivery of her boat RV Amigo Shirley rowed on an ERG for 4+ hours a day, often getting up twice in the middle of the night to do 2-hour stints. Since her boat went into the water at the end of August she has been out on the water rowing for as many hours as possible. She will have done at least 200+ hours before she departs for St. Barts.

Follow her journey with Simrad as Shirley proves to herself and others that ordinary people can do extraordinary things...