Maud Fontenoy, aged 26, hopes to be the first woman to row west to east across the Atlantic.
Maud Fontenoy, aged 26, hopes to be the first woman to row west to east across the Atlantic. She set off from St Pierre et Miquelon off Newfoundland on 13 June at 1120 GMT and expects to arrive in Ovessant Island, France in the next 15 days. Although not the first woman to attempt this feat, she hopes to be the first to successfully complete it.
The Frenchwoman is now 96 days into her journey. Maud is in contact with her team by satellite phone but has no support boat. She says she is feeling “lonely and tired,” rowing for at least nine hours a day to achieve a daily mileage of around 35 nautical miles.
Fontenoy has battled a huge Atlantic storm with 35-knot winds and five-metre waves and her boat was twice capsized. Although the weather has become much calmer recently, a southwesterly wind is hampering her progress and blowing her in the wrong direction as she approaches the Bay of Biscay en route to France. She has approximately 500 miles to go. Her most frightening moments have been the storms and being alone. She also tells of close encounters with “whales and dolphins twice the size of my boat.”
Maud has been a keen sailor since she was tiny; she is the president of La Fédération Française des Bateaux Voiles et Avirons Traditionnels (the French federation of traditional sailing and rowing boats) as well as the founder of an association to help less privileged children learn to sail. Her extensive experience has allowed her to take this more northern route; the risk of this journey in cold seas is obviously greater. Apart from missing out on sleep (Maud only manages to catch a few hours each night in her wet sleeping bag in the back of the boat), she says she is most looking forward to “having people around, fresh food and a hot shower” on her return.
We will be following Maud’s progress as she enters the final leg of her journey.