|February 7th-- Sector Sport Watches team member Elisabeth Hoff has left the Canary Islands attempting to become the first woman to row an ocean solo. She will be at sea an estimated 90 days and row over 3000 miles. Throughout the Ocean Rowing Society will be tracking and mapping Elisabeth's progress.|
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Elisabeth Hoff Solo Row
|Photo credit to Sector No Limits photographer Daniel Forster (www.yachtphoto.com)|
return to ORS Home Page for Elisabeth Hoff's Atlantic Solo Row
LOS GIGANTES, TENERIFE, FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 1999
Solo rower waiting for good weather
ELISABETH Hoff, the British-Norwegian who aims to be the first woman to
row single-handed across the Atlantic, was waiting for a break in the
weather all last week to make her start from Los Gigantes.
As this edition went to press she was targeting Tuesday, February 9, to
begin her 3,000-mile lone voyage to Barbados.
The glamorous 26-year-old will be following in the oar-splashes of her
father, Norwegian cardiologist Stein, who took part in the 30-boat
Atlantic Challenge rowing race organised by adventurer Sir Chay Blyth in
She will be using his £20,000 boat, Star Atlantic, in which he and
partner Arvid Bentson came last of the 18 boats that remained officially
in the race, with a crossing time of 68 days and six hours.
Elisabeth gave up her £25,000-a-year job as a recruitment consultant to
City investment banks to make her bid.
As she waited at the Los Gigantes harbour for a break in the weather she
was helped by her parents, Stein and Scottish-born Diana, and boyfriend,
41-year-old marketing director Hugh Chambers.
They have been a great comfort and help to me, she said, along with
my main sponsors, Sector Sports Watches and No Limits of Milan, who are
pulling out all the stops to make sure I get away at the right time.
Elisabeth knows they will be there in the background to help in case of
disaster on the danger-filled odyssey but is well aware that the success
or failure of her mission depends entirely on her mental and physical
She could face storms, like the ones that battered American Tori Murden
and French woman Peggy Bouchet into submission in their attempts last
year to be the first woman to row alone across the Atlantic.
But I have deliberately chosen what is reckoned to be the best time of
year in the Atlantic, she says. I know the boat can stand up to the
weather and I have done all I can to prepare both mentally and
physically for the task.
She will also be tracked by Service Argos, a satellite system which
pinpoints and updates her position several times a day.
The route Elisabeth will cover on her row is not unknown to her. She has
sailed across this ocean stretch four times.
Between the ages of five and 10 she sailed around the world with her
family on Red Admiral, the boat they built themselves. Her most recent
crossing was in 1995 on her year out after graduating.
She has also made a close study of ocean rows, making close friends with
many of those who have done it.
Only a few months ago she played host in London to Phil Stubbs, the New
Zealand policeman who, with his partner Rob Hamill, won last years
Atlantic Challenge race in a record-breaking 41 days of gutsy rowing.
Phil was tragically killed in a light plane crash at home in New Zealand
just before Christmas.
Everybody connected with rowing was devastated by his death, said
Elisabeth. But I was particularly affected because he had been such a
good friend and given me so much advice.
Elisabeth has been actively involved in sport from an early age. She
started rowing at 15 and held the South of Norway Junior Champion title
several years running. She carried on to row for Glasgow University
where she won the Scottish University Championships in the coxless four.
Elisabeth has also competed in triathlon and half-marathon events and is
a keen runner. She spent last year rowing for the Thames Rowing Club in
preparation for her record attempt.
Her bid to conquer the ocean alone is her second chance to prove to
herself that she can make it.
It was she who suggested to her father that they should compete together
in the Atlantic Challenge race but she had to drop out because of her
aquatic bioscience studies at Glasgow University.
The one thing Elisabeth hates about the publicity for her challenge is
the way she is treated as a bimbo by some of the more sensational press.
It doesnt matter what I look like, she says. What counts is what is
on the inside. I just want to get on with the job.
We all have dreams. Most of us want to expand and challenge ourselves.
In todays world physical work has been replaced by technology. I want
to work for something physically and to be the first woman to conquer
Im not a super athlete. In fact a standard comment I get is that Im
not big enough to row across the Atlantic.
People seem to think that to do something like this youve got to be a
man and built like a tank. Im neither...but Im going to give it my
In a recent BBC radio interview with John Fairfax, the man who, 30 years
ago was the first to row any ocean solo, she was asked: Are you ready
to be bored out of your mind?
Im ready for anything, she said.
Rowing solo means I will have to be alone with myself and my thoughts
24 hours a day, day in, day out.
In a rowing boat I will be going where the sea and my mind decide to
take me. I will only succeed if the ocean and my mind let me.
l Information on Elisabeths bid can be obtained on www.oceanrowing.com.
Also used letter from British Sports Minister Tony Banks, headed:
Lets all pull with plucky Elisabeth
Elisabeth Hoffs intention to become the first woman to row
single-handed across the Atlantic surely demands our strong admiration
and respect for her courage, determination and endeavour.
I know that Elisabeth has already accomplished much more than most of us
ever achieve in a lifetime. The latest venture would give her a
well-deserved place in the record books for all time, because, of
course, there can only ever be one true first.
That Elisabeth is following in the footsteps of her father, Stein Hoff,
who undertook the same journey with a partner in 1997, only makes her
attempt more special. It would be very fitting indeed if Elizabeth were
to make it a family double.
We in Britain can be proud of our record in pioneering achievements and
Elisabeth is the latest in a long line of people who seek to become a
first and set new goals for others to follow.
Elisabeth has worked tremendously hard in pursuit of her goal and I wish
her the very best of luck for a safe and successful voyage.
TONY BANKS MP
UK Minister for Sport
LOS GIGANTES, TENERIFE, FRIDAY, JANUARY 22, 1999
From The Western Sun, Tenerife, Friday, January 22.
Headline: New Lone rower takes on Atlantic
NORWEGIAN Elisabeth Hoff is heading for Los Gigantes to start a solo
row 3,000 nautical miles across the Atlantic to Barbados.
The 26-year-old round-the-world sailor, right, aims to become the first
woman to row alone across an ocean.
Her bid comes only months after the failure of French woman Peggy
Bouchet in May and American Tori Murden in September to accomplish the
Elisabeth, however, will be following in the oar-splashes of her
Stein Hoff, who made the crossing with his partner Arvid Bentson during
the 30-boat Atlantic Challenge race from Los Gigantes to Barbados last
They came in last of the 18 boats that remained officially in the race,
with a crossing time of 68 days and six hours.
Several other boats completed the crossing but were disqualified from
the race because they had to seek assistance, and six boats among
Tori Murdens were forced to pull out due to illness of one or other
of the rowers.
Elisabeth will be mounting her bid to become the first woman to row
across an ocean solo in her fathers boat, Star Atlantic, which, like
all the others in last years race, was specially built for the job
a kit designed by Peter Spud Rowsell and Philip Morrison.
It is at present being shipped to Tenerife and Elisabeth aims to start
her risky ocean challenge early next month.
Elisabeth, who has been rowing since the age of 15, expects to take
about three months to complete her dangerous mission, sponsored by
Sector No Limits Sports Watches of Milan.
An accomplished sailor, Elisabeth has crossed the Atlantic in sailing
boats four times, once during a circumnavigation of the globe aboard
39ft yacht Red Admiral.
But this will be her first attempt at rowing across the ocean.
Elisabeth will be taking time out from her job as a recruitment
consultant for City investment banks in London and has been putting in
long hours of rowing practice as a member of the Thames Rowing Club.
She is superbly physically equipped for the voyage, having dedicated
much of her life to fitness and endurance sports.
As a keen photographer, she hopes to have time during the crossing to
develop her portfolio, as well as build on her knowledge of the sea
gained through taking a BSc Hons degree at Glasgow University.
But, with the present unstable weather conditions in the Atlantic and
around the world, the adventure will be fraught with danger.
As she prepares for her mission she will be well aware of the fate of
Tori Murden and Peggy Bouchet in their recent bids to row the Atlantic
Storm warning signals for lone woman rower
Hurricanes sank two previous record bids
AS Elisabeth Hoff sets off from Los Gigantes to row the Atlantic alone
next month she must be thinking of two women whose own attempts failed
only last year.
Like Elisabeth, they wanted to become the first woman to row
single-handed across an ocean. But both attempts ended in failure and
dramatic sea rescues.
Victoria Tori Murden had been battered by two hurricanes and survived
11 capsizes in one night before finally admitting defeat after 85 days
alone at sea and within 950 nautical miles of her target destination of
She had rowed 2,653 nautical miles since leaving Nags Head, North
Carolina, on June 14
Her ambition to become the first American and first woman to row an
ocean alone was shattered but she was left with two consolation prizes.
She set the world record for spending more days alone at sea than any
other woman rower. And she set the record for the most miles rowed solo
by any American, man or woman.
The 35-year-old adventurer from Louisville, Kentucky, had been inspired
to go for the record after failing in the Los Gigantes to Barbados
two-handed rowing race the previous autumn.
She was forced to pull out in the first few days of the race when she became
violently ill from food-poisoning.
Her lone voage in the opposite direction but rowing the boat, American
Pearl, that had been specially built for the Los Gigantes-Barbados
journey, ended on September 7 after international emergency teams
pinpointed her position and asked the Cyprus-registered bulk carrier
Independent Spirit to change course and pick her up.
Over the previous two days, Hurricane Danielle had mercilessly battered
her 23-foot rowboat with 30ft waves that caused 11 capsizes on her
One wave caused the boat to pitch-pole, tumbling Tori around in her
small cabin, and causing trauma to the athletes head and shoulder.
The American Pearl was designed to self-right and self-bale after
I felt like I went 12 rounds with Mike Tyson, Tori said after her
rescue. My entire body was bruised, and I was afraid I had broken my
Hurricane Danielle was the second to hit Tori on her journey. Only a
week before, high seas caused by Hurricane Bonnie, 150 miles away, had
caused American Pearl to capsize twice, but she gamely rowed on, only
be hit by the 30ft seas of Hurricane Danielle.
Battered, bruised and, finally, in fear for her life, Tori sent out an
emergency signal and an RAF aircraft from Scotland spotted her standing
in her boat and waving.
Sea conditions were still turbulent when the Independent Spirit arrived
and Tori was plucked to safety. But gale force six winds and 12ft seas
meant it was impossible to recover the American Pearl with all her
Toris rowing boat was found drifting 40 miles off the coast of
and recovered by the American motor vessel SV Mediterranean on November
27, three months after her dramatic rescue.
It was taken on to Le Havre, France, the Mediterraneans destination,
and arrived there three days later.
In huge understatement, Tori said: While I was happy to hear that
American Pearl did indeed reach France, there was a twinge of sadness
that she did not arrive in September with me at the oars.
Frenchwoman Peggy Bouchet had earlier suffered similar disappointment
when he attempt to row alone from France to the US ended on May 28.
After 79 days at sea and an exemplary crossing, Peggy fell victim to a
capsize and was forced to resign her bid only 120 miles away from her
As soon as her distress signal was received a specially chartered
plane took off and spotted her emergency flare two and a half hours
later. Peggy was clinging desperately atop the upturned hull of her
A maritime rescue plane managed the tricky operation of dropping a life
raft close by and she was able to survive in that until she was finally
rescued by a Cypriot ship, the Peramos, on route to the US.
Aboard the Peramos Peggy talked about her death-defying experience.
I had an immense fear, she said. I was closing the hatch when
suddenly a very strong wave capsized the boat. Being trapped under the
boat by my harness I was unable to breath and I thought I was going to
I had to take my Argos beacon and trigger it. Then I climbed onto the
hull to wait for help. The boat was filling up with water little by
little when the rescue ship arrived.
You cant imagine how happy I am to be safe. After such an experience,
you realise that life hinges on little things.
Both women, like Elisabeth Hoff, were sponsored by Sector Sport Watches
as part of the companys No Limits philosophy.
Providing support and technical assistance to extreme athletes and
adventurers worldwide, Sector encourages individuals who dare test the
outer limits of human endurance.