Elsa’s new route: Q&A

“I am full of admiration for Elsa, not only for the tenacity and determination that she has exhibited over the last five weeks as she battled persistent headwinds, but even more for her wisdom and maturity in deciding to change course. I applaud her decision, and look forward to congratulating her in person when she returns to Britain.”

-Roz Savage MBE FRGS, holder of four ocean rowing world records.

 

Elsa will continue to post updates on her blog – please check it out for the most up-to-date information. You can view her current position on the race tracker.

Some information about Elsa’s amended plans, in response to the questions and coverage that have been coming in:

  • What have conditions been like for Elsa?
    • Heading out of Monterey Bay, Elsa experienced strong onshore winds that blew her back into the bay every time she stopped rowing. She countered these by resting on sea anchor in the day and rowing at night when the winds dropped.
    • As she started to head out to sea, strong winds pushed her south east down the Californian coast. She experienced waves up to 20ft breaking over her boat.
    • Later on conditions improved slightly, but persistent winds meant making headway westwards was challenging. Elsa headed further south to seek more favourable wind and wave direction.
  • Why has Elsa chosen to change her route?
    • Elsa has experienced unexpectedly challenging wind and wave conditions right from the start of the row. These pushed her far south of her intended course, into areas with increased risk of hurricanes, with unpredictable promise of improved weather. This, and the fact that the further she headed from land, the more dangerous an emergency recovery would be (for Elsa and any rescuers), tipped the balance of risk. Read Elsa’s statement here.
  • How far off her intended course did she reach? How long is her new route?
    • Elsa ended up around 100-150nm east of her ideal route. By the time she completes her journey she will have rowed the best part of 1,000nm.
  • Why do the courses of all of the boats in the race differ from the direct route?
    • With the prevailing winds and currents in the Pacific, following the direct line (visible on the race tracker) is effectively impossible – even for the four-man crews. Rowers aim to push through the Californian coastal stream and make it to the trade winds, at around 125 degrees west. The ‘ideal’ track sweeps south and west.
  • Could Elsa not just row longer/harder?
    • Elsa has trained for years for this challenge. Out of the four solo rowers in the race (two men and two women) she was the last remaining by over a month. Her three broken oars (unheard of before) indicate how tough the weather was for her, and the statistics showing that she has rowed the furthest ‘miles per rower’ of any of the classic-class boats – even compared with the four-man crews – are testament to her efforts.
  • How long will it take her to reach land?
    • This is variable depending on weather, but we estimate around two to three weeks.
  • How is Elsa feeling about the diversion?
    • Elsa is in good spirits. She is confident that this was the correct decision to make, and to continue further would be dangerous to her and irresponsible to any rescue crews she would also be putting at risk. Please see her statement.
  • How are supporters responding?
    • Since she announced her diversion, Elsa has received many hundreds of messages of support from sponsors, supporters and fans – overwhelmingly positive. Many have said that they admire the courage and discipline that Elsa showed in making this decision.
  • Will Elsa re-attempt this challenge?
    • Elsa and her team have not discussed this yet, they are focusing on a safe and effective return to shore for her.
  • What do other experienced rowers think?
    • Roz Savage, world-record holding ocean rower says: “I am full of admiration for Elsa, not only for the tenacity and determination that she has exhibited over the last five weeks as she battled persistent headwinds, but even more for her wisdom and maturity in deciding to change course. I applaud her decision, and look forward to congratulating her in person when she returns to Britain.”

Media resources

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