In 2007, Freya Hoffmeister circumnavigated Iceland in a record 33 days. Three months later, she set out to become the first woman to go around the South Island of New Zealand, solo and unsupported. Seventy days later, the 43-year-old sea kayaker from Husum, Germany completed what was another record-setting trip that Paul Caffyn called “The most significant solo kayak trip undertaken by a woman in the southern hemisphere”.
What’s next for the paddler, known as “The Woman in Black”?
Expected to take her roughly one year, the 9,400 mile (15.000 km) journey around the southern continent is considered one of, if not the, most challenging trip in the world of sea kayaking. While there have been dozens of attempts, if Freya makes it, she’ll become the first woman to complete the journey and only the second person since Paul Caffyn, her friend and mentor from the NZ trip, did it 27 years ago.
What makes it so formidable?
Huge salt water crocodiles, Great White sharks, venomous sea snakes and deadly jelly fish, massive surf, exposed crossings, the challenge of coordinating freshwater and food dumps, hundreds of kilometres of sheer cliffs without any landing zones and destroying cyclones are some of the most daunting threats – not to mention the tropical heat and physical toll it will take to average upwards of 35 miles (~ 60 km) per day for one year.
Starting in Melbourne in January 2009, Freya’s progress will be posted on her website www.qajaqunderground.com
Update June 2009:
Freya is doing incredibly well. She has made it past the halfway point and after taking a short break she is now back paddling the coast of the Kimberley’ s. This is potentially one of the hardest sections of the expedition so far with huge 12m tidal ranges and correspondingly fast currents. It is extremely remote and there are lots of things that bite! Please follow and support this expedition!