By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — An Athlone woman is among an 18-strong crew that is bidding to knock five days off the world record for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic in a rowing boat.
Sharon Coen, 28, is one of two women on the Atlantic Endeavour team, whose members range in age from 17 to 40.
"Some of them are old seadogs and some of us are rowers," she said. "They range from professionals like an accountant and a geophysicist to a former submarine navigator and a school leaver taking a year out before starting university.
"We hope to make the crossing in 30 days and beat the current record, which was set by a French crew in 1992. It’s a fantastic challenge. Conditions will be basic on board but it will be worth it.
"We have got the best of satellite navigation and communications equipment and will be able to maintain contact if anything goes wrong."
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Coen, a computer specialist with an insurance company in Edinburgh, joined up after learning about the record bid in the city’s rowing club.
She began rowing on the Shannon in her hometown and continued when in Trinity College in Dublin.
The 50-foot long boat for the crossing has been purpose built in Dunbarton with specialist advice from naval architects.
It has a 20-foot exposed area for rowing in the center with covered berths for the crew in the bow and stern.
While most of the crew are Scottish, it also includes an Englishman, a South African and an Australian and each had to raise £5,000 in sponsorship.
"We are scheduled to set out from Gran Canaria around about Nov. 2 — it will all depend on the weather — and we leave to begin sea trials there on Oct. 24," Coen said.
They will take advantage of the trade winds, which starting blowing at the end of October and hope to make landfall in Barbados.