ONE woman and her stand-up paddleboard are taking on the Wild Atlantic Way (WAW) one wave at a time in an effort to raise awareness of sea pollution.
Oona Tibbetts, aged 29, is paddling the 2,500km coastline of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way in a bid to inspire and motivate others to take better care of the environment.
Ms Tibbets said her aim is to encourage people to want to do better for the planet.
“Unless things change, and change rapidly, there is going to be a lot of suffering in the next 80 years, I just want people to stop and think.
“This parasitic lifestyle we are leading has to stop.”
To get ready for her epic adventure, which began in Kinsale last week and will continue throughout May, Oona said she did a lot of cross-training, core training and also went to California to learn the correct technique from stand-up paddleboard (SUP) instructors.
Speaking to The Echo, Oona said she wished she had done more work prior to setting off.
“I do wish I had put more hours on the board, but I have previously spoken to other individuals who have completed long SUP expeditions and their advice is that as long as you have the base fitness, the core muscles and the technique, good and strong, then the day after day endurance will come.”
When speaking to The Echo, Oona has just arrived at her destination for the night after seven hours of paddling, travelling 30km to Seven Heads, beside Dunworley beach, near Inchydoney.
“I am following the coastline instead of just going point to point so it will take me a bit longer to complete,” Oona said.
Taking into consideration weather conditions, Oona estimates it will take her two weeks to get around the coast of Cork and onto Kerry.
While paddling around the Wild Atlantic Way by day, the hardy adventurer is camping out on land by night, unless the weather is particularly bad.
“I grew up hiking and camping a lot in New Mexico and I really enjoy it,” Oona said.
Ms Tibbets, who runs Stand-up Paddleboard adventure tours with her partner, Ed Lacey in Dingle, ‘Wild SUP Tours’, said when she moved to Ireland four years ago, from New Mexico, and took up SUP, she started to notice rubbish in the sea.
“I was new to paddle boarding when I got to Ireland and when I started learning I found it amazing!
“It was just this fantastic experience, but I also noticed there was garbage everywhere, in the sea, on beaches and it is just very sad.
“We should take better care of the environment.”
Oona said the idea to paddleboard the Wild Atlantic Way came in bits and pieces.
“At first I just thought it would be cool to do the coast of Kerry and then that idea grew and grew and then I thought if I am going to do it, it has to be for a very good reason.”
The Wild Atlantic Way concept was created by Fáilte Ireland as a unique tourism trail on the west coast, and on parts of the north and south coasts.
The 2,500 km coastal driving route passes through nine counties and three provinces, stretching from Donegal’s Inishowen Peninsula to Kinsale.
To follow Oona’s adventure see https://www.instagram.com/oonagoeswild/
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