hoff3.jpg (44985 bytes)       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 rescued at sea...

Feb-17...Elisabeth Hoff safe after Capsize

Elisabeth Hoff: her brave attempt to be first woman to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean ends in capsize.

Elisabeth Hoff, the British-Norwegian rower of the Sector No LimitsŪ Team, who left Las Gigantes (Tenerife - Canary Islands) on Sunday, February 7 to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean, launched the alarm signal this morning at 07.15 GMT.

After an impressive first 10 days, covering 374 nautical miles, Elisabeth Hoff was forced to give up her boat:: The Sector No LimitsŪ Star Atlantic, when it capsized in very heavy seas, and refused to return upright.

The rescue services, both of the Sector No LimitsŪ Team members and the Spanish Coastguard responded immediately. Within five hours she was spotted by a Coastguard plane, and shortly before 18.00hrs she was rescued by a container ship.

Milan, February 17, 1999 - Elisabeth Hoff, the 26 year old British –Norwegian, Sector No LimitsŪ Team rower, had left Los Gigantes (Tenerife - Canary Islands) on the morning of February 7, with the aim of being the first woman to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean, this morning launched her satellite alarm signal.

The previous night, continuing the pattern of the last 36 hours, weather conditions were extremely adverse: a very difficult sea with short and close waves, and 30 knots of wind. In storm conditions, with waves of more than 7 metres, The Star Atlantic capsized when caught by a particularly strong wave. The rower was trapped in the cabin and tried to right the boat, which is normally no problem for this design of ocean rowing craft. However, after many failed attempts, she was forced to call for help.

At 07.15 GMT, Elisabeth activated the EPIRB device, one of the safety devices onboard her boat. The distress signal was received by Norwegian emergency services, and with the technical staff of the Sector No LimitsŪ Team, the Spanish coastguard was alerted. The latter took immediate action, by signaling Elisabeth’s distress signal and position to all surrounding ships, and then sending a plane which located the upturned boat, identified Elisabeth was safe, and launched a life-raft.

The Norwegian container cargo ship, Star Dippe, reached the rower at 17.45 GMT, and with one new passenger on board, has continued on its route towards Brazil.

The day before, at 19.00 GMT, Elisabeth had communicated to the support Team stating that everything was okay on board, although the weather conditions predicted for the following night worried her, and waves were breaking over the cabin of the boat.

Once aboard The Star Dippe, the exhausted athlete told her story via radio: "I’m fine, even if the last 24 hours have not been the best in my life! Yesterday the sea was really angry, and knowing the Ocean, I was ready to face a difficult night. I went into the cabin, sealed the door, arranged all the safety devices and strapped everything down. In the early hours of the morning I fell asleep, but I was woken by an enormous crashing noise, and the capsizing of the boat. Upside down in the cabin I tried to right her, but after many attempts, I realized that oxygen was running out, and water was seeping into the cabin. I really had no choice by that time, so I took the EPIRB device, the emergency rockets, and I went out and I sent the alarm signal whilst sitting on the upturned hull of the boat".

"The seas were very heavy, and with every fifth or sixth wave I was swamped, but I did not panic as I was sure the rescue services would soon arrive. When I heard the noise of the plane I let off a flare, and then knew I would soon be back in safety. I was really lucky that the capsize had happened at dawn and we had a whole day to complete the rescue, and I must say a big thank-you to everyone in the team who saved me from the ocean today"

Of course it is a huge disappointment to spend nearly a year preparing for a trip like this, and then to be knocked out after less than a quarter of the distance. But I have taken on the challenge, braved the wildest oceans, and survived; so after all this I feel pretty lucky and pleased to be heading home in one piece, with my memories of the adventure of a lifetime."