Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Degree of Commitment

I've enjoyed sea kayaking over the last couple of years. I've pushed unsuitable boats out to their limits, built my own boat and paddled it on expeditions, and generally had a pretty good time on the water. I still think that paddling twenty kilometres in a day is a pretty good day. What I have not done is paddle sixty kilometres in a day, and done that for 332 days, completing a 13,790 kilometre trip. But Freya Hoffmeister has.
Some women are remarkable. Some are extraordinary. Freya seems to be in a class by herself. She's a former gymnast, bodybuilder, and skydiver, who started kayaking in 1997.  Over the years, this 45 year old has had a kid, built an chain of seven franchise ice cream cafes, a salad bistro and a Christmas shop, circumnavigated Iceland by kayak, done a solo around New Zealand's South Island, and now has completed the circumnavigation of Australia. Not only has she now completed the trip around Australia in 332 days, she's done it 28 days faster than the only other person to have completed the trip (New Zealander Paul Caffyn made the first circumnavigation in 1982).
Freya hauled between 50 and 100 kilos of gear along with her most of the way, until, a couple of months ago, she met Geoffrey Bethune, who has paralleled her on shore, hauling much of her gear in a van.
The coast of Australia offers some pretty extreme paddling, with a number of different challenges.  Peter Costello, president of the Victoria sea kayakers club, points out;"There are hundreds of kilometres of sheer cliffs without any landing zones, massive surf, exposed crossings, cyclones and tropical heat that take their toll on the body.''
Freya's trip was not without a few moments of startlement. One night in "murky water" off Broome, a shark took a bite out of her kayak, leaving her taking on water and paddling quickly to shore. Once she saw the bite marks, she made the rare to her decision to stay off the water the rest of the night. Thankfully, the attack occurred at a place where there was a landing site.
Freya made it off the water December 15th, looking for a hot meal and a chance to get out of her swimsuit and into dry clothes. An amazing woman, making the extraordinary look, well, ordinary. I'm waiting to see what she decides to do next.

Powered by ScribeFire.

No comments:

Post a Comment