One of our two solo female entrants in this year’s Great Pacific Race is Elsa Hammond, a 29-year-old PhD student from Bristol.
Elsa is an experienced crew rower, having rowed for her Oxford college and Durham University – and she is also no stranger to adventure, having previously unicycled across England to raise money for a four-month conservation expedition to Borneo, where she trekked in remote jungles.
A more recent adventure was an attempt at traversing the famed and feared Black Cuilin Ridge. The winds became so strong that she and her climbing buddy had to spend nearly two days stranded, building a makeshift dry stone wall around the tent to stop it blowing away.
Elsa has chosen two important causes to support on her row to Hawaii – gender equality and plastic pollution. For the former, she is supporting a charity called the GREAT Initiative, and celebrating 2,400 inspiring women, inviting people to nominate a woman who has inspired them.
She says, “Relatives, friends, celebrities or strangers – any woman is eligible for nomination. Each day of the row, messages of support or memorial will be sent out for the women to whom that day’s miles have been dedicated. Their names will be printed on the boat and accompany me throughout my journey.”
You can dedicate your mile via Elsa’s website.
And to raise awareness of plastic pollution, she is raising money for the Plastic Oceans Foundation.
Supporting her is Campaign Manager Steve, whose roles include managing Elsa’s preparation, logistics, web support, fundraising, comms, and general dogsbody. To that long list he can now add “fiancé”, as he and Elsa got engaged just over a week ago.
Elsa’s stated goal is to break the world record by becoming the fastest and youngest woman in history to row from California to Hawaii – and with the added incentive of fiancé Steve waiting for her in Honolulu, we wish her all success in her endeavours.
Photo by Gerry Gill gmgill.smugmug.com
Author’s note: Speaking personally, I have great confidence that Elsa can achieve her goals of fastest and youngest woman to row this route. I feel entitled to make this comment, as I am the first – and so far only – woman to have rowed from California to Hawaii. I was 40 when I completed the voyage in a time of 99 days. Elsa is 12 years younger and 6 inches taller and already adventure-toughened so, weather permitting, she has an excellent shot at breaking my record, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer rower. Go, Elsa!
– Roz Savage