With its focus on environmental and social sustainability WWL has been a great teammate, possessing values that are close to my heart.
For most people, the idea of rowing across the Pacific Ocean is the stuff of nightmares or some cruel and unusual punishment.
But not Elsa Hammond.
“I really like to challenge myself,” says Hammond.
The intrepid adventurer who hails from Bristol, UK, will be one of a handful of rowers – and the only woman from Europe rowing solo – competing in the inaugural Great Pacific Race on 7 June 2014. The rowers will launch from Monterey, California, and end up in Hawaii, a journey of over 3800 kilometres (2400 miles) expected to take anywhere from 45 days to three months.
“I used to row during my time at Oxford University,” says Hammond, “and in my second year I heard about people actually rowing across oceans. It intrigued me then, but it wasn’t until eight years later that I decided to give it a shot. I heard about the race shortly thereafter and everything else just fell into place.”
The race itself is the first of its kind on the Pacific Ocean. Crews of one, two or four will compete, with many expected to break the current world record for crossing the Pacific by rowboat. The rowboats are also something of a marvel. They are rugged vessels made from carbon fibre, glass fibre and other composite materials and built to withstand the perils of ocean weather. Watertight cabins situated at either end of the boats act as both storage for the many necessitates each team will depend on to survive the trip and a place for the rowers to rest. The boats can even self-right if they capsize.
Aside from the various challenges inherent in such a venture, Hammond will also champion causes important to her during the race: gender equality issues and pollution.
“The row will be very strenuous, both physically and mentally, as I’ll be isolated for almost three months, rowing up to 16 hours a day,” she says. “But it does provide an opportunity to shine a light on sustainability issues and social reform.”
Hammond has partnered with the Plastic Oceans Foundation, a charity that supports and funds solutions targeted at reducing the amount of plastic waste deposited into the ocean, and the GREAT initiative, a UK-based gender equality charity. In addition, Hammond has started her own campaign called 2400 miles: 2400 women, whereby supporters can dedicate a mile of her journey to an inspirational woman in their lives. Donations will go to help fund the race, with all remaining proceeds going to the two charities.
WWL is helping ship Hammond’s boat to the starting line. WWL in Southampton, which has a regular service to California, went one step further when the adventurous Hammond enquired about getting her boat to the US.
“Hearing the reasons behind her upcoming journey – the personal challenge element and the great causes it will support – they’re so close to WWL’s causes and values, it seemed like a great opportunity to do something nice and help support a great challenge,” says Steve Barfoot, Head of High & Heavy Accounts and Imports, WWL Southampton.
In fact, WWL has covered all expenses to get Hammond’s boat from Southampton to Port Hueneme on the vessel Oberon.
“I’m really happy with our relationship with WWL,” says Hammond, who is currently immersed in a rigorous regimen of training, public speaking and meetings with sponsors. “With its focus on environmental and social sustainability, WWL has been a great teammate, possessing values that are close to my heart, and I would love to develop our partnership going forward.”