Mission Fail: Woman begins rowboat journey across Pacific Ocean


By AGENCY
  • People
  • Tuesday, 16 Jun 2015

Sonya Baumstein poses with the 7.01m-long carbon and kevlar solo rowboat that she'll be using to complete her solo journey across the Pacific Ocean, from Choshi Marina to San Francisco. If she finishes the challenge, she will become the first woman, and third person, to successfully make the voyage. Photo: Reuters/Andrew Cull

Sonya Baumstein poses with the 7.01m-long carbon and kevlar solo rowboat that she'll be using to complete her solo journey across the Pacific Ocean, from Choshi Marina to San Francisco. If she finishes the challenge, she will become the first woman – and third person, overall – to successfully make the voyage. Photo: Reuters/Andrew Cull


JUNE 16 UPDATE: An American woman has ended her attempt to become the first female to cross the Pacific Ocean by herself in a rowboat after running into rough weather and a piece of steering equipment failed off the coast of Japan, her team said on Sunday.

Sonya Baumstein, 30, was rescued by the Japan Coast Guard a week after she began the four-to-six month odyssey to San Francisco, according to expeditionpacific.com, her support team's website.

During her first seven days on the water, Baumstein lost her drogue, a critical steering system device, and battled strong headwinds while dealing with the prospect of rough weather in the forecast, the journey's operations manager, Andrew Cull, said in a statement.

"Sonya and some team members felt that things weren't going right. While we couldn't put our finger on it, something felt wrong," he said.

Despite 16 attempted solo rows across the Pacific, no women and only two men have successfully completed the journey: Frenchmen Gerard d'Aboville in 1991 and Emmanuel Coindre in 2005, according to Ocean Rowing Society records.

Baumstein was traveling in a custom-made 23-foot (7-meter), 660-pound (300-kg) boat without a motor or sail. Baumstein's boat had an electric water maker that desalinates seawater for drinking.

The only other woman to attempt to row from Japan to San Francisco was Briton Sarah Outen. But she was blown northward and after 149 days ended her 2013 journey in the Aleutian Islands.

Baumstein has not decided when or if she will attempt the trip again, Cull said. – Reuters


JUNE 9: An American woman has begun a 9,656-km voyage on June 7 in Japan, attempting to become the first woman and third person to cross the Pacific Ocean in a rowboat.

Sonya Baumstein, 30, set out in her carbon and kevlar boat from Choshi Marina, Japan, beginning the four- to six-month odyssey to San Francisco, according to expeditionpacific.com, her support team's website.

"And she's off!!" her team said in a Tweet after she launched.

Despite 16 attempted solo rows across the Pacific, no women and only two men have successfully completed the journey – Frenchmen Gerard d'Aboville in 1991 and Emmanuel Coindre in 2005, according to Ocean Rowing Society records.

Baumstein is travelling in a custom-made 7m-long boat weighing 300kg, and not equipped with motor or sail.

Sonya Baumstein sits in her custom-built 7.01m-long carbon and kevlar solo rowboat. Photo: Reuters/Andrew Cull
Sonya Baumstein sits in her custom-built 7.01m-long carbon and kevlar solo rowboat. Photo: Reuters/Andrew Cull

"Sonya's not crazy," says Andrew Cull, the journey's operation manager, in an earlier interview. "She's driven. Maybe a little bit bullheaded. She gets an idea in her head and will do anything necessary to get it done."

On board, she has 544kg of freeze-dried food, 180 high-carbohydrate drink supplements and a cache of olive oil that she will consume in hopes of retaining as much weight as possible.

Baumstein's boat has an electric water maker that desalinates seawater for drinking. Her bathroom on board will be a bucket.

Baumstein, who was recruited as a rower by the University of Wisconsin-Madison before a car accident derailed her collegiate athletic career, expects to burn to up 10,000 calories a day and has gained 18kg for the trip.

Her team will aid her from land via satellite phone, she will be tracked by GPS, and will have an emergency beacon in case of trouble, but there will be no support vessel.

The only other woman to attempt to row from Japan to San Francisco was Briton Sarah Outen. But she was blown northward and after 149 days ended her 2013 journey in the Aleutian Islands. – Reuters/Brendan O'Brien

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