Dunblane Woman Rowing Atlantic Alone

14 December 2016, 05:00

Elaine Hopley, solo ocean rower

A woman from Dunblane's taking on one of sport's toughest challenges, and trying to set a world record while she does it.

Elaine Hopley's starting the Talisker Atlantic Challenge today, to row solo across the ocean.

Fewer people have rowed the Atlantic than have been in to Space or climbed Everest, and the 45-year-old's aiming to become the first Scottish woman to do it alone.

It's a journey of 3,000 nautical miles that could take three months, although Elaine's planning to do it in around two.

The extreme sports fanatic said: "It's just another adventure for me.

I've trained, I've put the boat together, I don't think I can actually do any more. I feel ready, I feel confident mentally and physically and I just want to get to the start line now."

It's not just about the adventure for Elaine. She's raising awareness and money for Alzheimer's Scotland, after her mum Jan passed away following a 17-year fight with dementia. She says that's as important to her as taking part in the race.

The super-fit mum-of-two has been preparing for almost three years, including getting sponsorship to make it possible, and she told us, "It's epic. It's a journey in itself to get to this position.

"Doing courses, deciding what boat you want to have, the training you have to do.

"You know, you have to prepare your body for what it's about to do. It's relentless, but it's been really rewarding for me."

Although there are support teams on hand to deal with emergencies, Elaine will face the challenge alone.

Her 7 metre boat, which she has fitted out herself and named after her mum, holds everything she'll need. All her food, medical kit, a water-maker and GPS location device powered by solar panels.

She'll face dangerously rough seas, salt burns, sleep deprivation and even sharks, but she's not worried about any of it: "If you start putting fears in your head, they can plague your mind and sure enough, it'll happen.

"So no, I don't have any fears. There will be scary moments, there's no doubt about it, but you can ask me that when I've done it - what was the scariest thing!"

The physical demands of the race are huge. Elaine will be eating 6,000 calories a day, mostly made up of dehydrated ration packs containing everything from chicken korma and spaghetti bolognese to scrambled egg and a chilli con carne Elaine says is "brilliant".

She'll add protein bars, oatcakes and desserts to that, but will still burn off more than she can eat.

She's even packed a bit of Christmas cake as a treat for Christmas Day and will toast New Year's Day with a whisky.

Elaine wants to become the first female Scot to complete the solo row, and the fastest ever woman to reach the finish line in Antigua.

You can keep up with her progress at http://www.eh-oceanrow.com/ and on Twitter @elaine_hopley