From Elsa, in the Pacific:
You may have noticed the silence and lack of any westward push over the last couple of days from me and Darien. Things have been busy here with phone calls, emails, and lots of difficult decision-making.
Given the tricky conditions I have been facing since the beginning, and particularly the impossibility of making enough westward progress into headwinds, I’m much further south and further behind schedule than planned. I am being advised that, even if I do manage to punch my way westward against the wind and waves from this position, the likelihood of meeting volatile weather (tropical cyclones, hurricanes) on the way across is greatly increased both by the more southerly latitude that I’ll be rowing at and the increasing lateness of the year.
I’ve thought long and hard about this, and have decided, with advice, that the most sensible decision is to alter course for a different destination.
Of course I am disappointed not to be completing what I set out to do in rowing to Hawaii, but I am confident that this is the right decision, and one that does not put an end to the journey. There are many risks involved in ocean rowing, and I started in the full knowledge of these, but the balance is now tipping to those risks becoming too great.
Particularly at sea, adventures don’t always work like clockwork, and it is far better to be sensitive to this and to make proactive decisions than to blindly ignore it and try to force the original plan regardless. I would rather alter course to a new route and make land under my own power now, than run the increasing risk of needing to be airlifted out later and putting my and others’ lives in danger.
As it is I’m safe and well, and am continuing the adventure (and the blogs) in an easterly direction. I am planning on making landfall in Mexico, and we are working with race organisers New Ocean Wave to ensure a safe landing.
Although the destination has changed, and I am no longer racing, my aims remain the same. I want to celebrate inspirational women and to raise awareness of the issue of plastic pollution in our oceans. I am still carrying out sampling for research into plastic pollution with Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation whilst I’m out here. I also continue to celebrate inspirational women.
As well as all the wonderful women who have had miles dedicated to them, I have been hugely inspired by the comments and emails pouring in and am continually amazed at the stories of strength and perseverance that I hear. Please know that this has not been an easy decision to make, but I hope you agree that it is the best one, all things considered. Who knows what the coming weeks will bring?!
A response from Race Director Chris Martin:
“We are sad to hear that after more than a month of battling against adverse weather conditions Elsa has decided to postpone her row to Hawaii. We commend her in making a very difficult decision and having the dedication to complete her current journey by touching land under her own power. We will continue to work with her and her support team until she is safely back on dry land. As always, the safety of our entrants is our primary concern and we continue to closely monitor her in case a more active and rapid response is required.”
And finally, a note from Campaign Manager Steve:
Elsa has been fighting against the wind right from the start. From the challenges she faced getting out of Monterey Bay, and throughout the last five weeks at sea, Elsa has been pushing against incredibly tough conditions.
By the time she reaches her new destination Elsa will have rowed the best part of 1,000 miles entirely under her own power. According to a recent race report, Elsa has the highest ‘miles per rower’ of any of the classic-class boats (those not designed to actively catch the wind).
Achieving this solo, and with the last two-thirds handicapped by a damaged and repaired (and therefore much heavier) oar, is testament to Elsa’s physical and mental determination.
This has been an incredibly difficult decision for Elsa to make, but is undoubtedly the correct one. Elsa will continue to post updates, and would very much like to receive further words of encouragement from her supporters. Please send messages through the contact form.