Freya Hoffmeister, the German woman who is kayaking around South America, kayaked out of Trinidad and Tobago waters on October 17, after a five-day stay here before continuing her epic journey around the continent. Freya has a super woman feat — kayaking to 12 countries in 24 months — at total of 24,000 km (15,000 miles).
The Express caught up with the friendly sea kayaking goddess at the Kayak Centre in Chaguaramas — the day before she moved on with her expedition and she was happy to be here. She ended up on Trinidad shores after realising it was the best option for rejuvenation before moving on to the challenging waters to Venezuela. Speaking fluent English, Freya said the island is a paradise.
“From Trinidad it is easy to navigate to Venezuela. When I set my navigator on South America I saw that Trinidad was easy to short cut the corner of Venezuela. I really enjoy the night approach to Trinidad, smelling tropical scents. Approaching Trinidad harbour at night was as exciting as my night arrival in Panama City and even more a relief to have actually eventually made it! The island is a beautiful place to hang out and re-supply with food and some of the things I’ve missed for a while. It’s a paradise here; it has everything I needed,” Freya said.
Freya was hosted by members of the Trinidad and Tobago Kayak Association and has also met with German Ambassador Stefan Schlüter, who congratulated Freya on her daring feat. Schlüter said he was confident of Freya’s success. “I would say that Freya is a fellow ambassador travelling around the continent. From Trinidad this is a very difficult one with the head wind and the current coming in so it’s not one of the easiest,” Schlüter said. Schlüter, plans to lend further support to Freya by travelling to Guyana ahead of her arrival there to make arrangements for Freya’s arrival there. “I’m leaving for Guyana to talk to the Tourist Board and to see what kind of assistance they can offer,”Schlüter said.
Freya is 49, and has a 17 year old son who she said supports her and looks forward to her return home to Germany. She likes Trinidad waters she said the island has a sophisticated Kayak Association and more people should take advantage of the facilities at the Chaguaramas Kayak facilities. “I am quite happy to see the Kayaking Centre available here; I think people should really take advantage of it because there is beautiful water here,” Freya said.
Before reaching Venezuela, Freya will paddle along T&T’s coast, heading South of Trinidad to Venezuela. From Venezuela she will continue along the coast of South America to Guyana.
Freya has had some difficulties kayaking the world — it comes with the territory. “I have had a lot of difficulties. I have had some dangerous situations to overcome. But I am alive, I am here and I am healthy. There will be challenges around me; challenges in everything. It suddenly became very windy in capon — 60 knots wind and I had to do some emergency landing on the rocky coastline,” Freya said.
Freya keeps her fans updated with her progress through her blog, which she updates on an almost daily basis while paddling. She said in one of her blogs that she intends to keep up a good pace with this trip. “On this trip I’ll be not “racing” — though keeping up a good pace as usually. There won’t be anyone to “race” anyway — besides myself. To my knowledge no one has ever paddled the entire South American coastline, though most parts have been paddled before,” she said.
Freya, 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 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 Hoffmeister (born May 10, 1964) is a German business owner and athlete who holds several sea kayaking endurance records. In 2009 she completed a circumnavigation of Australia solo and unassisted, becoming the first woman and only the second person to do so. On August 30, 2011 she began her attempt to become the first person to solo circumnavigate the continent of South America.
In 2007 Freya and Greg Stamer completed the fastest-ever sea kayak circumnavigation of Iceland in 33 days.
She finished a solo unassisted circumnavigation of the South Island of New Zealand in January 2008, becoming the third person in 30 years to do so, competing with Barbro “Babs” Lindman of Sweden and Justine Curgenven of Wales to be the first woman to do so. She set the fastest solo time for the 2,700 kilometres (1,700 mile) voyage in 70 days, six days faster than the previous record set by Paul Caffyn.
Freya’s 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 mile) voyage in 322 days, of which 245 were paddling. Freya 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.
On August 30, 2011 she began her circumnavigation of South America from the Quilmes Yachtclub in Buenos Aires. Paddling south down the coast, rounding the Cape south of Tierra del Fuego, ending the first leg of her 8,000 kilometres (5,000 mile) trip in Valparaíso, the main harbour just off Santiago de Chile eight months later. She will returned home for four months and resumed 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 took another break before beginning her 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. Her South America expedition will set another milestone in the history of sea kayaking.