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Six Women: Expanding Boundaries in Ocean Sports

Fearless: One Woman, One Kayak, One Continent

According to, and Times Press Reader, ocean sports are surging in popularity and not just in this country but worldwide. Aleksander Doba, a Polish engineer who is completing his journey from Brazil to New Smyrna Beach Florida is just one example.

However, women paddlers, adventurers and explorers have done more than their share to attract worldwide attention to a “sport” that at one point in history was identified with men. Here is a list of six women who have traveled the world, paddled oceans and lived adventurous lives while expanding our perceptions of the world.

Angela Madsen, a former Marine who became a paraplegic at age 52 due to a failed back surgery. She is “One former Marine from Florida has tackled depression and disability but has yet to find an obstacle she can't overcome.”

Rebecca Berger and Leanne: “Two Vancouver women are set to become the first Canadian first women to row across the vast Pacific Ocean; 3,900 kilometres (2400 miles) from Monterey, Calif., to Honolulu, Hawaii.”

Mylène Paquette: Completes solo row across Atlantic Ocean

Rosalind "Roz" Savage: “First woman to row across the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans”

Freya Hoffmeister: Circumnavigated Australia

Angela Madsen,
Angela Madsen,

Angela Madsen,

Angela Madsen, a former Marine who became a paraplegic at age 52 due to a failed back surgery One former Marine from Florida has tackled depression and disability but has yet to find an obstacle she can't overcome.
Madsen agreed to do three more body-numbingly long rows after that fateful maiden voyage. In 2009, she joined a crew of eight on a 58-day journey across 3,600 miles of the Indian Ocean from Australia to Mauritius. It earned Madsen the title of the first disabled woman to row across two oceans. Then in 2010, she circumnavigated Great Britain with three other women, making Madsen the first and only person with a disability to row the 2,010 miles non-stop and unsupported from London Tower Bridge to London Tower Bridge in 51 days.

 Freya Hoffmeister
Freya Hoffmeister

Freya Hoffmeister

Freya Hoffmeister, the “Woman in Black”, is based in Husum, North Germany, when she’s not travelling for sea kayaking around the world. She’s either picking her 7,5 m-van, a tent or rental car to sleep in: independence is her lifestyle.

Accomplished in several styles of paddling, including open water marathon racing, Greenland style rolling, huge expeditions and rough water kayaking – and who knows what else she’s going to try next.

Freya chooses boats, paddles and gear depending on the conditions, her moods, and by pure chance! A squeeze into a squirt boat, a sidestep to white water rivers, a sprint and balance act on a surf ski, it’s all about variety in life! No time for her to get bored and when you see her having fun playing around or experience her endurance on a race or trip, you might feel what a kayaker’s life is all about.

She has finished already some other sporting careerers: 10 years of competitive gymnastics, 5 years of competitive body building and 10 years of skydiving with 1500 jumps. She was the first German female tandem pilot with 500 passenger jumps, and part of many huge record formations. Her most exotic place to skydive was over the North Pole, getting washed out of a Russian Iljushin jet plane with 300 km, a tandem passenger strapped to her chest.

Besides her sporting careers, Freya built up successfully a chain of 7 franchise ice cream cafés, a salad bistro and a x-mas shop.

Until today, she decided to keep 2 major ice cream cafés in her hometown Husum plus the x-mas shop, which grew to a supermarket over the years.With the help of 2 loyal managers and about 40 nice young ladys, after being in the buisiness since 24 years, she feels able to take some time off now for her kayaking travels.

Freya started kayaking 1997 with a folding kayak on quiet waters, where her newborn son grew up in the back hatch.

In 2003, her interest was raised for the ‘rough’ waters, exploring with her first sea kayak along Germany’s and Denmark’s coastline, inviting her to play.

In 2004 she participated in her first international sea kayak symposium in Anglesey, which made her instantly hooked and an extensive kayaking traveling career had begun. In open water racing Freya won the Arctic Sea Kayak Marathon in Norway 2004, placed 2nd 2006 in the 300 km race around the Danish Island Fyn, and took 14:07 hrs for a 120 km one-day trip around the Isle of Man.

Having been a former gymnast, Freya has the balance and flexibility needed for rolling. Soon after she started Greenland style rolling, she was already teaching rolls at symposiums all over the world. In 2005 Greenland style rolling has become her trademark. She had not only mastered most of the 35 Greenland rolls in a very short period of time, but had also made up some of her own, and added some creative balancing movements ON the kayak.

Freya won the overall women’s class on the 2006 Greenland national championships. Her total of 8 gold medals in rolling and races made her the most successful foreign competitor ever.

She’s been a guest teacher in Japan, New Zealand, all over North America, Newfoundland, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Scotland, Spain, Wales, Finland, Israel, Iceland, Norway and Germany – so far! Invitations to lots of other places on the world are on the 2010′s list.

Combining this teaching and lecturing with various kayaking trips in the area has been an exciting way of traveling for the last few years. Freya started her ‘longer’ expeditions career with a three weeks trip in May 2006 on the remote South Coast of Newfoundland, where she joined Wendy Killoran. Her appetite was wettened now for longer trips on even more challenging coastlines!

Together with her trip partner Greg Stamer, she circumnavigated Iceland in June 2007 in the record time of 33 days/ 25 paddling days only.

A solo trip around the challenging and unforgivable coast line of New Zealand’s South Island made her the first woman to circumnavigate, and the 4th person overall, again in the record time of 70 days/ 47 paddling days only.

Her latest huge trip took her right around Australia,. She was 332 days underway, solo and mostly unsupported. It’s considered to be THE challenge for a seakayaker, and has only been finished once – 27 years ago.

Freya is planning her next epic adventure to circumnavigate South America, which will set another milestone in the history of sea kayaking.

Montreal's Mylene
Montreal's Mylene

Montreal's Mylene

Mylene Paquette become the first North American woman to row, alone, across the Atlantic Ocean, after arriving in France late Tuesday.

After a 5,000-kilometre journey that started in Halifax 129 days earlier, Paquette, 35, arrived in Lorient, France.

Rebecca Berger and Leanne Zrum
Rebecca Berger and Leanne Zrum

Rebecca Berger and Leanne Zrum

In June of 2014, Rebecca Berger and Leanne Zrum will set off from Monterey Bay California and row 2100 nautical miles to Honolulu Hawaii unassisted as part of the inaugural Great Pacific Race. Their goal is to become the first Canadians to row the Pacific, and the first female pair to complete this history-making race.

Rosalind "Roz" Savage
Rosalind "Roz" Savage &

Rosalind "Roz" Savage

The extraordinary, average life of Roz Savage
Just reading about her “3,000-mile trial by sea” would make the bravest of land dwellers shutter. During her first transoceanic journey across the Atlantic in 2005, which took 103 days, 5 hours, 43 minutes, Savage rowed 2,935 miles, consumed 462 breakfast bars, averaged 12 hours of rowing per day, lost 30 pounds and endured 24 days without communication.

She traveled across the Pacific in three installments over a period of three years. During the first leg from San Francisco to Hawaii in 2008, she clocked 2,324 miles, lost 25 pounds and listened to 62 audio books.
The second stage from Hawaii to the Island of Kiribati in 2009 took 104 days, crisscrossing the Equator twice, losing 30 more pounds and encountering whales, sharks, dolphins, turtles and squid.

On the third and last leg of her trans-Pacific quest from Kiribati to Papua New Guinea in 2010, her stats were very similar to the first two-thirds, except this time she sighted numerous pirate container ships, which she reports were “far too many for comfort.”

Self-described as “a latecomer to the life of adventure,” Savage has racked up mind-boggling statistics that literally changed her life.

Today, after 15,000 miles, five million oar strokes and over 500 days at sea in a small craft, she uses her uncommon sea adventures as raw material to inspire people like you and me.
As the only woman in the world to row alone across the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, the former management consultant has broken four ocean rowing world records, entered The Guinness World Book of Records and has not looked back.

Savage has authored two books: “Rowing the Atlantic: Lessons Learned on the Open Ocean” (Simon & Schuster) and “Stop Drifting, Start Rowing: One Woman’s Search for Happiness and Meaning Alone on the Pacific” (Hay House), was awarded the 2010 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year and named Member of the Order of the British Empire.

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