Today’s Talk Topic: Courage, Thy Name Is Woman

why-300x200Elsa Hammond at the start of the Great Pacific Race, June 9. (Great Pacific Race copyright Ellen Hoke Photography.)

The Great Pacific Race  from California to Hawaii is 2,400 miles long, as the albatross flies,” Elsa Hammond’s website explains. Right now this Brit, a Ph.D. candidate in literature at Bristol University, is navigating that route solo . . . in a rowboat. She’s one of 2  female contestants among the 16 entrants in the “biggest, baddest human endurance race the planet has ever begun”— the First Annual Great Pacific Race. Only one woman has ever rowed this route (the widest stretch of the Pacific) before; Hammond hopes to be the youngest (at 28) and fastest (in fewer than 99 days) woman to do it.

She’s rowing the 2,400 (at least) miles, she has said, in honor of “inspiring women”—a mile for each such exemplar nominated by a contributor. (Her fundraising site promised that for each £42 contributed, donors could get their inspirer’s name on her boat.) The hazards? The site is understated:

It is unlikely that Elsa will see another boat after the first couple of days . . . . Hopefully, she won’t be entirely “all alone”, however. The North Pacific is home to a huge variety of wildlife, including whales, dolphins, sharks, albatrosses, flying fish, tuna and pelicans! As Elsa will be moving so slowly and quietly through the water, she is more likely to have encounters with wildlife than more “traditional” ocean-going vessels.

For more details on how a human being manages to stay alive for months at sea in a rowboat, go to

For the latest news on the race, go to

To track the boats, go to


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  • Emily Scholnick June 13, 2014 at 8:52 am

    I am not famous. I am a survivor of a family in which the parents’ abusive behavior of me and my siblings resulted in us having PTSD to each other and to the world.
    I am 61, my other siblings are 58 & 66. We all suffer. I am the only one who has faced the past through treatment.
    I wonder if there are other groups of siblings living with this strange family dysfunction.