London based explorer Ness Knight is preparing for a record breaking attempt to become the first female to row the Pacific Ocean solo and non-stop from San Francisco to Australia in spring 2018. During the 6-7 month expedition Knight will row for 14-18 hours a day in unforgiving weather conditions, facing 40-foot waves, 60-knot winds and raging storms.
The row is considered by seasoned explorers to be one of the toughest and most extreme expeditions on the planet. British explorer Ed Stafford said “Having spent time on expedition with Ness in Bolivia I can vouch that she is the real deal, giving me huge confidence in her as an adventurer. If Ness were to achieve what no woman has done to date she will have pushed back the boundaries of what is humanly possible.”
Knight will be using human power alone to propel her 7,000+ nautical miles across the vast Pacific seas in an ocean rowing boat weighing 1 ton fully laden. By the end of the expedition the explorer will essentially be rowing her own trash can across the ocean to the finish line, as there will be no way of removing rubbish from the boat during the expedition due to it being an unassisted crossing. No food or equipment can be provided to the explorer by passing yachts or ships once she has left San Francisco harbour and makes her way to Australia.
Explaining her motivation during this preparation stage Knight said “Rowing halfway around our planet, solo and unassisted, in waters filled with some of the richest and most diverse marine life, is one of the greatest journeys I could hope to embark on in my lifetime. Only two men have ever succeeded at rowing the Pacific solo and non-stop, and few people have even dared to attempt the crossing. My overarching goal is to champion the believe that ordinary people can achieve the extraordinary, and that nothing is beyond your capabilities if only you can leverage resilience. If just one person is inspired to step up to their own potential and dreams then this row will have been a success.”
Knight will be pitting herself against some of the most unpredictable and perilous seas, where the closest humans will be astronauts on the International Space Station, 90 miles above. Knight’s friend, former NASA Astronaut Ron Garan, is all to aware of what it takes to explore our planet at the edge of what is considered possible, saying “It would take a force of nature with nerves of steel to conquer the mighty Pacific Ocean. My friend, elite endurance athlete Ness Knight is that force of nature. I have complete faith in her ability to become the first woman in history to row solo and non-stop across the Pacific Ocean. Godspeed on your epic journey Ness.” Help will often be days away, so Knight will need to be resourceful in fixing any issues on the boat, with no room for complacency. This will test her limits of endurance and mental fitness as she is forced to rely on smart decision making, alone at sea, whilst facing exhaustion, dehydration and sleep deprivation.
Knight will be making the crossing in a custom designed and built ocean rowing boat which will be able to withstand the rough conditions of one of the world’s most treacherous bodies of water. The boat will have a carbon constructed mono hull that will self-right if capsized.
Knight’s mental and physical preparations will take into account:
Isolation: spending between 180 and 270 days, equating to up to 6,480 hours, at sea.
Knight will need to replace the 5,000 calories burned each day, adapting to the continuous exertion.
Extreme temperature changes: up to 40-degrees celsius in the cabin during hot days, and chilly storm conditions.
The Pacific is the world’s largest ocean, spanning 165.25 million square kilometers (63.8 million square miles) making it larger than all of our planet’s land mass combined.
The 3 toughest sections of the row are expected to be breaking away from North America, crossing the equatorial current and surviving severe storms and hurricanes.
Training for the row will involve both physical and psychological training, as the mental fortitude needed is a critical part of preparing for months of solitude in such an extreme and remote environment.
More people have stepped foot on the moon than successfully rowed the Pacific solo and non-stop.
Knight will run her electrical equipment, including all navigation and communications, as well as her desalinator for fresh water, off solar and wind power. There is no toilet on the boat and Knight says it is a “bucket and chuck it” process. The fore and aft cabins are designed for storage and sleeping quarters, respectively. The explorer will spend half a year living in a cabin the size of a one-man tent, with just enough room to lie flat and sleep, or strap in during stormy conditions, and just enough height to sit up to use the navigation and communications equipment.
When asked about her expected fears during the row Knight said “I’ll need to be wary of busy shipping lanes and nearby vessels as there is the very real threat of them accidentally ploughing into my tiny boat if I am in their direct path and they have not seen me. I’ll be radioing all ships and passing vessels to make them aware of my presence, as I will have limited ability to manoeuvre out of the way. My greatest fear is of complacency, because a simple human error could end in disaster; leaving a hatch open means I risk a rogue wave crashing over the boat, into my cabin and ruining my electrics. Not strapping myself in during rough seas and enormous waves means I could sustain a head injury during a capsize. All these seemingly small details will matter a great deal out there, alone, hundreds of miles from any rescue. But my biggest challenge will be looking after my mental stamina and attitude on a daily basis. Keeping positive and focussed when facing adversity is the most important thing to train for.
Although there there will be many character-building challenges out there, there will also be incredible highs. I’m looking forward to surprise visits from the open ocean with the possibility of seeing turtles, dolphins, sharks, birds, great shoals of fish and perhaps even the enormous body of a curious whale passing silently below my boat. These seas, though unforgiving and remote, are home to some of the world’s most extraordinary wildlife.”
Knight will attempt to supplement a handful of her meals by fishing whenever possible, which will provide her with the only fresh food onboard. Daily meals will come from freeze dried packet dinners, alongside protein shakes, biltong, nuts, dried fruit, seeds, canned fruit and vegetables, hydration salts and chocolate.
Boat maintenance will be essential, including getting into the water with a snorkel and goggles to scrape barnacles off the underside of the boat, as these cause drag. Although seemingly trivial, if left these tiny barnacles could add days onto Knight’s expedition by slowing her down. The living quarters will also need regular upkeep to prevent damp and mould settling in, damaging equipment and making sleeping conditions unbearable.
Knight will be supported by a land crew including Chris Martin, an ex International and World Record setting ocean rower and Director of New Ocean Wave. New Ocean Wave was founded in 2011 and has been built on the desire to help people row across oceans, offering unparalleled levels of service and support. They have a longstanding and comprehensive knowledge of the sport as well as first-hand ocean rowing experience from all members of their team. The team will support Knight with all aspects of the row preparation, as well as advice and weather/current forecasting whilst she is at sea.
Knight has support from experienced adventurers around the world wishing her success, with explorer Levison Wood adding “What Ness is hoping to achieve is the ultimate in physical and mental extreme challenges. It takes guts, determination and probably a little bit of madness to even think about attempting something like this, but Ness has proven herself over and again to be one of the shining lights in record breaking adventure and stands as good a chance as anyone. Rowing solo across the Pacific is one of the hardest expeditions there is so make sure to watch this space!”
For more information on the expedition, or to enquire about becoming a sponsor please contact Knight via her website: www.nessknight.com/pacific
Contact: Ness Knight, firstname.lastname@example.org, +447725892522.