Important update: a new destination for Elsa

From Elsa in the Pacific, via satphone:

Hello everyone,

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?!

Best wishes,


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 willcontinue to work with her and her support team until she is safely back ondry 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. Achieving this solo, and with the last half handicapped by a damaged and repaired (and therefore much heavier) oar, is testament to her 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.

Elsa still has part of her core costs to cover, and will have further costs involved with recovering her and Darien from Mexico. If you’re able to support with these please consider donating oar strokes to see her safely back to dry land.

Thank you to all sponsors and supporters, and people who have dedicated miles and donated oar strokes. Elsa continues to row in celebration of inspirational women across the globe, and would like to thank everyone who has made her voyage possible.

22 thoughts on “Important update: a new destination for Elsa

  1. Dear Elsa,
    It sounds like you have had to make some very tough calls indeed. Although the conditions are not permitting you to reach Hawaii, from where I stand what you have seen, done and achived so far is absolutely incredible…
    Sending you love and strength for the next stages and of course awaiting your safe return.
    A hug from Bristol


  2. Dearest Elsa,

    I can’t not imagine how difficult this decision was for you to make. I know how badly to you wanted to make it to Hawaii. You have had quite an unbelievable journey so far, one that most people wouldn’t even dare to dream, and it’s not over yet! Hang in there and enjoy the final leg. We love you and are inspired by you ever more!

    XO, the Brocks


  3. Dear Elsa,

    What an adventure! We all have to change directions at one time or another in our lives. We’ve been to Hawaii and Mexico and both destinations present unique and exciting challenges. Gone are the docks with scores of well wishers helping you learn to walk on dry land again. You have chosen a path that may require skills that the other rowers may never know. A beach landing in a small fishing village where you are the only one who speaks English has become a real possibility. We can’t speak for others following the race, but your path and progress has become the first one we check each morning when we awake. Hawaii will always be there . . .

    Thinking of you,
    Art & Lal


  4. This must have been such a difficult decision, but an inspiring one. Well done for making this step (or stroke!) and it’s an incredible journey you are on. Last week, somebody offered me a quote: “Change is the only evidence we have of life”.

    Many big hugs from all at Vala.



    1. Dear Elsa:
      We’ve been quietly been following you and the other rowers with great admiration. We feel like we know you and are so proud of all you have accomplished during great adversity. We are with you on whatever decisions you have made and are making. We wish you the very best and please know that you have been and are in our prayers, and we will continue to follow your progress.


  5. Hi Elsa,
    Good decision. We have all been praying the winds would change, but every time it looked better it only lasted a day or two. You have been very brave fighting against all the elements, it must be very frustrating. The most important thing is to return home safe and sound.
    Andrea x


  6. Such a brave decision Elsa & I know you have the strength & determination to get you safely to Mexico. What an achievement. For anybody who spends time on open water it is amazing to think what you are doing out there on your own. Huge huge admiration for you Elsa & good luck as you continue on your way.


  7. Elsa, A really awful decision to have to make but you are the lone surviving solo rower and you have battled the longest with courage and spirit. However, safety is paramount and you do not want to be alone in a cyclone under any circumstances. Take heart from what you have achieved already and console yourself with the surroundings and aquatic life you will see going to Mexico. It is still a great adventure and you have tested yourself to the utmost. We will continue to follow your progress and encourage you onwards to a safe landing. Celebrate your own achievement along with all those other inspirational women. Be of good heart and sing out loud as you row the dolphins may join in, who knows.

    Best wishes,
    Hilary Milne


  8. I admire you hugely for making such a difficult decision. There seems to be a general attitude around in competition, that if you are determined enough you can achieve anything you want. However, humans have not yet controlled their own environment totally, and it is good to remind people of that fact, and that we have to work with the earth and weather. You have not been defeated, you are working with the waves and wind, and will hopefully be able to enjoy them on the rest of your journey to Mexico. Hope your fishy friends enjoy the trip as well! May the dolphins go with you, and see you safe to land. Look forward to following your progress.


  9. Elsa
    Great effort keep it going. In view of the weather conditions from the West, would it not have been a better idea if the race organisers had run the race from Hawaii to the US thus running with the weather? Easier ride to Mexico. Good luck!!!


  10. Every stroke, regardless of its direction, serves to uplift, support and inspire women (men and children! ) around the world. Your journey is helping to create positive change and bring awareness to important issues…The rest is just geography. Row strong, sister friend! Thanks for helping to #maketheworldabetterplacetobe

    Favourite Human


  11. Well done, Elsa, for making a sensible and safe decision. It must have been difficult, but the ocean does not tolerate people who do not pay attention!

    Greetings from me and Coral on a wet and windy day in Stornaway!



  12. What an adventure! We all have to change direction in life at one time or another. We’ve been to

    Hawaii and Mexico; both present unique and exciting challenges. Gone are the well maintained docks

    with scores of well-wishers waiting to help you learn to walk on dry land again. You are now faced with

    the opportunity to learn skills the other rowers may never know. A beach landing in a small fishing

    village where you are the only one who speaks English has become a real possibility. We can’t speak

    for others following the race, but your course and progress has become the first one we check each

    morning. Hawaii will always be there . . .

    Thinking of you,

    Art & Lal


  13. Hi Elsa, Sorry I haven’t been able to message you recently. Having computer problems. 😦 Just got it up and running again last night. Becky did tell me what has been going on with you. I feel so bad that you are having to alter your plans. I know that was a hard decision for you to make but I do feel it was a wise one. You have had a lot of things both physically and emotionally to deal with. I still think that you are one of the strongest women I have ever known. I know we have never met but from talking with Becky I feel like I do know you and Steve. I am praying for a great and safe finish for your journey. Hang in there! We are all so proud of your accomplishments so far. I know the Brocks are really looking forward to seeing you. Give them a hug for me. 🙂


  14. Oh, Elsa, well done – it must be such a relief to have made a decision about what to do and how to cope with the situation that you’ve been in – terribly difficult problems to deal with! I”m so happy to think of you rowing towards land rather than battling to get onto the right course! Proud of you for dealing with all of this xxx


  15. Hola Elsa! I spoke to your boyfriend today and found out about your courageous voyage and decision to alter course…a most wise decision I believe. We are working on the logistics of your landfall which will be in our neighbourhood and so look forward to hosting you here in Bahia Asuncion and hearing all about your challenge. We will be in touch and see you soon….Animo!


  16. Your tenacity and courage to make that disappointing tough call is inspiring, Elsa! Keep up the great work.

    “Adventure is worthwhile in itself.”
    ~Amelia Earhart


  17. Hi Elsa,
    A wise but tough decision and I applaud you for having the courage to make it – a great learning for us all about the power of the ocean and the winds and our place within it all …. good luck in Mexico. Looking forward to seeing you safely back. Helen x


  18. Well done Elsa! You’re such an inspiration. Many best wishes to you as you change course, accompanied by friendly turtles and dolphins. You have done amazingly, and each challenge has shown your bravery and fortitude – hope for better weather and some good times ahead…


  19. I read about you Elsa before departing for my adventure, the Single Handed Transpac race, June 28 – July 19, San Francisco to Hanalei Bay, Kauai. The conditions on our starting weekend were rough and then past midway into the race, the confused seas from the Tropical Storm added to the already challenging night squalls. It still blows my mind that you and others were out there in the seas that I experienced. As you know, it’s accomplishment just to get to the starting line and an honor and experience to partcipate. BTW, I was fortunate in that I did not experience the trash that others have witnessed. My most common sighting was round, basketball size, commercial fishing floats – about once everyone other day. Second most common sight – I saw 1″ square pieces of styrofoam or other similar white stiff material about 1-2 times per day for 14 days. My competitors saw a piling or telephone pole and a half submerged, derelict sailing vessel. Glad you are safe and in the comfort of land. I hope pleasant memories fade in and out of your days until you return to the sea again.

    Cheers, Joe Balderrama, s/v “Archimedes”


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