Local skipper supports record breaker’s dream

Fiona Quinn, (31) is the first woman in history to complete length of Britain triathlon
Fiona Quinn, (31) is the first woman in history to complete length of Britain triathlon

A record breaking paddle boarder completed an epic 800-mile journey thanks to support from a Carrick skipper.

Fiona Quinn - a 31-year-old British adventurer - stopped in Carrick Marina to rest for the night on the journey as she recovered and celebrated the incredible achievement.

On Tuesday, July 10 she arrived at John O’Groats having Stand Up Paddleboarded from Lands End two and a half months ago.

As part of the 800-mile (1280 km) voyage of the UK, her predominantly coastal route made her the first woman to SUP across the Irish Sea. All the while, navigating her own fear of the sea.

Fiona stated: “John lives aboard his 42ft yacht in Carrickfergus Marina and so we called into his home port on our way back down south after the expedition.

“Carrickfergus Marina very kindly welcomed us and my support boat, Shogun, into the marina by letting us stay a couple of nights on the house to celebrate my new world records.”

This journey is the hat trick in her ‘main’ world record: as of 12:35 on Tuesday, she is now the first woman to ever complete a length of Britain triathlon.

Last April, Fiona walked 993 miles from John O’Groats to Lands End. She undertook the challenge entirely self-supported, carrying everything she needed in a 15kg pack, using the pursuit of her next cake stop as motivation. At the 500-mile mark she was forced to take a rest week on crutches due to tendonitis.

However, this certainly didn’t define her journey. Rather, the kindness of strangers did, with one highlight being when she was rescued from the side of the road in the Lake District just as the tendonitis left her unable to move.

After her week off Fiona then upped her daily mileage from 20 to 30 miles a day for six days straight in order to make up the time she’d had off, finishing in just 57 days.

A few months later, in September, she cycled back the other way. In the bid for an even longer challenge this time – 1,200 miles – Fiona plotted a route that went via London.

With constant mechanical breakdowns (including a split rim on her rear wheel that could have caused serious injury) she battled against the elements. However, she was rewarded with stunning scenery as she cycled along some of mainland Britain’s most remote roads.

On April 21 this year, Fiona set off from Land’s End to complete the water-based element of her triathlon. She has been paddling since then, stopping only to eat, sleep, and wait for the weather.

Having only paddle boarded on the sea three times before she left and contending with a fear of the sea, Fiona – naturally – opted for the harder route that involved crossing the Irish Sea twice. This can be an unforgiving stretch of water: as well as being an exceptionally busy stretch in terms of cargo and passenger vessels, it also boasts over 30 types of shark and 12 species of whales. Luckily, it was the dolphins that decided to pay her a visit during her crossing over to Ireland.

The west coast of Scotland, however, was not so kind. Fiona was caught out near the notorious Corryvreckan whirlpool – the third largest in the world. Her support boat had left her for just 90 minutes to change crew, when she found herself unable to fight the surging tide.

Terrified, she was slowly pulled towards the whirlpool (which is on record as being able to pull a person 262m down to the sea bed, before dragging them along and spitting them out well down current). Put simply, this stretch of water is deadly. Luckily, her experience and knowledgeable crew raced back just in time to pluck her from the waters.

Making the challenge more difficult from the offset, Fiona used an inflatable SUP board, a design noticeably less rigid and less efficient than its non-inflatable counterpart. She is now the first person in history to have paddled the length of Britain on one of these boards.