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.