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Flyin’ Fish team eyes land after a 2,800-mile row across the Pacific

Abergavenny’s Elaine Theaker celebrated her 60th birthday on the Pacific as part of the Pacific Challenge for charitable causes

Flyin' Fish team with Elaine Theaker at the front

After seven weeks at sea, the Hodge sponsored rowing team Flyin’ Fish is expected to reach Kuaui in Hawaii on August 2nd.

The five-strong team taking part in ‘The World’s Toughest Row’ left Monterey Bay in California on June 12th and have been rowing the 2,800 miles to the ‘Garden Island’ of Kauai in Hawaii ever since.

Retired solicitor for Abergavenny Elaine Theaker celebrated her 60th birthday on board the boat a few days into the row with a meal of dehydrated fish in parsley sauce and mashed potato, with some well-deserved Haribo sweets for pudding.

Just a few days after the celebrations the crew were struck by disaster when the Flyin’ Fish’s rudder was sheared off by a storm and left the team stranded, riding out the bad weather conditions for a week until they could replace the rudder and carry on with the challenge.

Elaine, who is still on board the Flyin’ Fish, said: “We deployed the boat’s parachute anchor to minimise backwards drift and toughed it out for five days and nights until calmer conditions arrived.

“Fortunately, we had taken the precaution of packing a spare rudder aboard, never thinking we would ever need it. After five days of going nowhere, the sea state was sufficiently calm to allow a few of us to enter the water and set about fixing in the replacement rudder. Once on, we were able to make progress again, retracing the 80 nautical miles we had drifted backwards and then onwards to Hawaii. We lost a week, but rowed on.”

Elaine continued: “Rowing an ocean is as much about resilience as it is determination, strength and fitness – and due to some other navigation issues, we have shown this in truckloads. Our reward for our efforts is to witness things that few others have, such as watching breeching whales at close hand, pods of porpoise, curious sunfish swimming up to the boat and even albatross landing alongside for a rest.

“We have been treated to magnificent views of the night sky in all its glory as well as incredible sunsets and sunrises, but we are now, more than anything, looking forward to setting foot on dry land and seeing our friends and family.

“We will be forever grateful for the help and support that Hodge has given us in making this challenge a reality”, Elaine added.

Elaine took on the row to raise money for four national air ambulance crews, including Air Ambulance Wales, and SSAFA – the Armed Forces Charity, with sponsorship from Hodge.

As a specialist in later life finance, and the founder of her own firm, Advantage Legal, for 16 years before her retirement, Elaine is also an accomplished fine boat river rower who rowed the Atlantic in 2017 with a female trio in 60 days and 18 hours, achieving two Guinness World Records in the process.

Dave Landen, CEO of Hodge, said: “I salute Elaine and her team on their strength, ingenuity and perseverance in the eye of such a great challenge. The team work, the patience and the good humour they have shared to get this far is truly awe inspiring – and all to raise much needed funds for air ambulance crews across the UK.

“Hodge is proud to be sponsoring the Flyin’ Fish team and wish them all the best for any future challenges.”