Blockchain.info Sponsors British Woman In Solo Row Across Pacific

Richard Boase
Jan 1, 2014 at 15:57 UTC
Updated Jun 23, 2014 at 09:50 UTC

In June 2014, Elsa Hammond will attempt to row across the pacific ocean, from Monterey Bay in California to Hawaii, a distance of over 2,400 miles, as part of the  Great Pacific Race 2014.

Hammond expects to spend about three months at sea and she will row on average for 16 hours a day. Her goal is to beat the current record of 99 days and as part of her effort she is raising money for the Plastic Oceans Foundation.

Blockchain Sponsorship and Pizza

Hammond reached out to the Bitcoin community in November, and Blockchain.info agreed to donate to the cause. Nicolas Carey from Blockchain says of the attempt:

“I learned about Elsa’s solo attempt back in London and I was instantly inspired to support her efforts – even more so because she saw the benefit of accepting Bitcoin donations. I personally enjoy pushing my physical limits but what Elsa is attempting is truly historic. It will take grit, persistence, and a sense of adventure – just like building a Bitcoin business.”

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He continued: “There are plenty of amazing stories happening in Bitcoin every day but I was particularly captivated by Elsa’s. There are too few stories about women and Bitcoin today. Blockchain.info is serious about supporting the Bitcoin community – and we’re honored to help in any way we can”.

Hammond is also offering to buy a pizza with bitcoin from the middle of the Atlantic ocean via satellite phone for the biggest private bitcoin donor to support her record-breaking attempt. Donors who wish to win the pizza however, cannot be anonymous! To be in with a chance you must submit your name and address to Elsa along with the transaction ID of the donation made to 1HuocGmJzsSLUsYKy32ZjJT9Nux9Ko3uVG.

Record Attempt

Elsa Hammond Pacific Ocean race

Hammond will be the only female solo contestant from the UK in the race, which is the first ocean rowing race to attempt the Pacific. It spans 2,400 miles in total, but the actual route will mean negotiating tough winds and weather conditions, which will make the final distance considerably longer. Of the 20 boats entered only five are soloists, and only one other soloist is a female.

Hammond expects to undergo serious psychological and physiological pressures during the race, in which she is vanishingly unlikely to have any contact with the other contestants. Currents, winds and weather, plus their choice of routes are likely to separate all the contestants from the first day.

In addition Elsa will have to cope with the psychological effects of isolation, self-reliance, and facing storms alone. She will have to keep herself alive by converting salt water into fresh water using an electric desalination device.

The Boat

Hammond’s boat is being built by Justin Adkin of SeaSabre who has rowed the Atlantic Ocean himself, and she has, as of writing, paid the first instalment towards its completion.

She commented: “It’s a solo rowing boat that is about 22ft and about 6ft wide. There’s a small cabin at each end which can be closed off, and each cabin is about 7ft long. The cabin I’ll be sleeping in is the stern cabin, that’s where my living space is, where I can lie down, and I will have all my electrical equipment: my GPS, battery, sat phone, VHF radio, and AIS transponder which alerts me to other boats in the area. So at night time, if I’m asleep it will alert me if I’m in a shipping lane, for example.”

BoatwithkitsmallCredit: New Ocean Wave

Specific donations to cover individual bits of kit needed for the journey can be made directly at her website in bitcoin (or by PayPal) at http://www.elsahammond.com/kit/ and general donations can be made here.

The boat will have a small cabin at each end, one for sleeping and communications equipment and another for storing rations and will cost approximately £50,000. The cost of the race in total, however, will be as much as twice that at around £100,000 to cover the cost of communications, water-making and safety equipment, plus food, transport, insurance and race fees.

On her blog, Hammond notes that: “The colour of the boat will be decided by early February, so any big company or donor hoping to gain title sponsorship has a month to stake their claim and choose the colour and name of the boat (as well as splash their branding all over it). Now is the time to sponsor.”

The Plastic Oceans Foundation

Above and beyond the £100,000 she needs to raise for the race itself, Elsa aims to raise an additional £20,000 for the Plastic Oceans Foundation whose work is to combat the effects of plastic pollution in our oceans and to raise awareness about the great pacific garbage patch through which she will be rowing.

Of it Elsa says: “It’s ‘like a thick soup of plastic particles which is very difficult to clean up. It’s not simply bottles and plastic bags, but tiny particles which attract toxins, and get eaten and go into the food chain. The Plastic Oceans Foundation is a relatively new charity which works with companies to find alternative materials to disposable plastics, and lobbies governments so as to raise awareness and people’s understanding of the problem“. 

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According to her blog: “The North Pacific Ocean is home to the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch,’ a concentrated area of plastic pollution the size of Texas. This is not – as is often thought – a floating island of  large pieces of plastic, but can instead be described as a sort of plastic ‘soup’ made up of billions of plastic particles of varying size. These particles absorb toxins, and are ingested by birds, fish and other marine life – over 250 species are known to have ingested or become entangled in plastic. These are also often the same fish that end up on our dinner plates!”

Because the North Pacific is home to such a wide variety of wildlife and because Elsa will be moving so slowly and quietly through the water she will have the chance to observe whales, dolphins, sharks, albatrosses, flying fish, tuna and pelicans close up, and as a result has offered to take part in some citizen science for institutions during her trip.

She will have to keep up to date with her navigation, make sure everything on the boat is in working order, eat sleep and tweet, all whilst blogging regularly and making podcasts.

How to Support the Cause

brochure-200Credit: Satyadarshin

To support Elsa and learn more about her trip go to www.elsahammond.com where you can check out the brochure, donate to the cause or order a T-Shirt. You can donate privately, fund specific items of kit, or contact Elsa about PR and branding opportunities. There are also special rewards available for donors.

Elsa says though her boat will get lighter as she approaches the end of her journey, she will increasingly lose her ballast and will therefore have to flood the lockers with seawater, in case it capsizes.

Elsa reassures us that whenever on deck she’ll be wearing a harness and that the boat is designed to be self-righting but “it’s unusual for boats to capsize during a voyage. In the event the boat capsizes, they’re made to come round again, unless you‘ve left the hatches open“.

CoinDesk hopes this doesn’t happen of course, and we wish her the best of luck!

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