Extreme Sports

Meet Extreme Sea Kayaker Freya Hoffmeister

The champion athlete (and ice cream mogul, and former Miss Germany contestant) passes through Portland in the way to her next adventure: a solo circumnavigation of North America.

By Regan Breeden March 20, 2017

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For 30 months, German badass Freya Hoffmeister circumnavigated South America by kayak. She visits Portland as she prepares for her next solo challenge: circumnavigating the continent's northern half.

Image: Paul Kuthe

It's been nearly a year since Freya Hoffmeister completed a 30-month, six-leg, record-annihilating solo paddle around South America.

Now the German super kayaker (and super badass, as a serial competitor in everything from body-building and gymnastics to the Miss Germany beauty pageant) is about to launch another epic adventure. Hoffmeister is set to take off from Seattle "sometime soon" for her next solo trek—a five-month ocean haul up to the Kodiak Islands, the first leg of an estimated nine-year, 50,000-kilometer trip around the entirety of North America. In between multi-month legs, she plans to return to Germany to manage her empire of ice cream parlors. 

Hoffmeister (or “Freya Shakti,” or “Goddess of Love to the Seas”) is, as you might intuit, is a bit of a colorful character. Meet her yourself on March 21, as she visits Portland's Alberta Rose Theatre for a presentation that traces the incredible highs and storm-ridden lows of her 27,000-kilometer journey around South America.

Case in point: Hoffmeister's kayaking career is her second extreme sports endeavor, one born of a compromise to accommodate new motherhood. After trading in a burgeoning skydiving career, Hoffmeister learned to paddle a kayak with her baby in the back hatch. "It was nice, and gave me paddling exploration," she says. "And the little boy grew out of the back hatch and I was going by myself and I kept on going like that.”

That shot Hoffmeister from casual kayaker to one of National Geographic's 2016 Adventurers of the Year. In 2007, she undertook her first long-distance expeditions, shattering records with a 33-day, 1,300-kilometer unsupported circumnavigation of Iceland. She followed that feat up with continental circumnavigations of New Zealand, Australia, South America, and Ireland.

Her philosophy is simple: “When I just set my goal to go around some island, I will finish. Whatever it will be. Everybody could do [what I do]. But everybody won’t do it. I can always inspire people to get out there a little bit longer, a little bit farther, a little bit harder.”

Freya Hoffmeister presents at the Alberta Rose Theatre at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 21. For more information on her and her journeys, visit her website.

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