Freya Hoffmeister (Kayaker/Adventurer)
Freya Hoffmeister (born May 10, 1964) is a German business owner and athlete who holds several sea kayaking endurance records.
She owns a chain of seven franchise ice cream cafes, a salad bistro and a Christmas shop in Germany.
She's a woman of few words and lots of action. Here's what she had to say about the Australia trip:
Hoffmeister's epic adventure is documented by journalist and marathon kayaker Joe Glickman in the page-turner Fearless: One Woman, One Kayak, One Continent, which was released on January 24, 2012 (He has A LOT more to say, and quite a bit more colourfully than Hoffmeister herself!).
On August 30, 2011 Hoffmeister began her solo circumnavigation of South America, intending to complete the trip before her 50th birthday on May 10, 2014.
Hoffmeister has been athletic from a young age, being able to walk on her hands around her family home at age six. She competed as a gymnast. She lives in Husum, Germany, but grew too tall for the sport at age sixteen.
She shifted to skeet shooting, and at twenty-three took up skydiving, completing 1,500 jumps, including the first-ever tandem jump onto the North Pole. She is also former Miss Germany beauty contestant, coming in sixth in the competition.
She began her circumnavigation of South America from the Quilmes Yachtclub in Buenos Aires on August 30, 2011. Her plan is to paddle south down the coast, rounding the Cape south of Tierra del Fuego, ending the first leg of her 8,000 kilometres (5,000 mi) trip in Valparaíso, the main harbor just off Santiago de Chile eight months later.
She will return home for four months, resuming the trip in September 2012, paddling north past Peru and Ecuador, cross the equator and pass Colombia and paddle through the Panama Canal then south past Venezuela, ending the second 8,000 km leg in Georgetown, Guyana.
She will tak another break, then start the third 8,000 km leg in September 2013, taking her past Suriname, Brazil and Uruguay returning to Buenos Aires in time to celebrate her 50th birthday on May 10, 2014.
As of April 22, 2012 - the 236th day of her trip - she had paddled a total of 7,172 kilometres (4,456 mi) and spent the night on a private beach in Pingueral, Chile after having successfully rounded Cape Horn.
Hoffmeister's record breaking Australian trip commenced from Queenscliff, Victoria on January 18, 2009.She paddled in an anti-clockwise direction along the Australian mainland coastline and completed the 13,790 kilometres (8,570 mi) voyage in 322 days, of which 245 were paddling.
(Joe Glickman's amazing book Fearless: One Woman, One Kayak, One Continent, is an inspirational, entertaining and often amusing account of Hoffmeister fiery personality as well as the tials and tribulations she encountered on the trip.)
She reached the approximate half-way mark at Broome, Western Australia in 171 days on 29 June 2009. and finished back at Queenscliff on December 15, 2009. To take a "shortcut", she paddled across the Gulf of Carpentaria from Jackson River to Nhulunbuy a distance of 575 kilometres (357 mi).
The crossing took seven nights and eight days and required sleeping in the kayak at sea. This crossing was done only twice before, once by Eric Stiller and Tony Brown, chronicled in Stiller's book "Keep Australia on Your Left," and once by solo kayaker Andrew McAuley.
The only other person to have successfully completed the Australian circumnavigation previously is New Zealander, Paul Caffyn who took 361 days (257 of them paddling) in 1981-82. Hoffmeister completed the journey 28 days faster. She had to deal with "salt water crocodiles, sharks, sea snakes and deadly jellyfish"on her journey, and "at one point a shark bit the stern, leaving two holes in the side of the kayak".
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