Watch River Wye and Monmouth Rowing Club rower Elaine Theaker from Abergavenny and former RAF serviceman Huw Carden from Dingestow launch their epic 2,800-mile Pacific Ocean row today in California.

The crossing from Monterey to Hawaii is billed as 'The World's Toughest Row' and the duo are part of Team Flyin' Fish, a five-man crew that is the largest in the row and were starting last.

Keep up to date with their progress at


RECORD-breaking rower Elaine Theaker will be swapping the tranquil waters of the Wye for the storm-tossed seas of the Pacific this month, as she bids to become the oldest woman to row across both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

The retired Abergavenny solicitor, who took up rowing at Monmouth Rowing Club some 10 years ago, was part of the oldest women’s crew to cross the Atlantic five years ago.

And while her Monmouth club mates were hosting their annual regatta on the ’sylvan Wye’ two weeks ago, the 59-year-old was heading off to launch out on the Pacific in a five-strong crew that includes ocean rowing newcomer and former RAF serviceman Huw Carden from Dingestow.

Mum-of-one Elaine posted before jetting off to Monterey with her Team Flyin’ Fish crew mates: “So many mixed emotions are running around inside our heads.

“After more than two long years of preparation and dreaming it feels surreal that the time has almost arrived for us to execute the careful plan we have been hatching to experience the very best team bonding doing something extraordinary together; to row across a part of the Pacific ocean only ever journeyed by less than 100 individuals before us.”

She added that each crew member ohas their own personal reasons for wanting to face the challenge.

“It might be a desire to chase a dream, bury some ghosts, prove a point, confront deep-seated fears or change a perspective.

“But there is one overarching goal… to arrive in Hawaii the very best of friends, bound together by sharing a unique experience and creating everlasting memories that will stay with us forever.”

She said that getting the project together had been “life-affirming, allowing us all to grow and flourish”.

Five years ago, Elaine and Shropshire crewmates and fellow mums Di Carrington and Sharon Magrath completed an epic 2,700-mile 60-day row across the Atlantic, becoming the oldest women’s crew and the first all female threesome to achieve the feat.

Their ‘oarsome’ endeavour was even turned into a musical play, Atlantic Ladies.

And Elaine, who will celebrate her 60th birthday in the middle of the ocean, is now all set to launch out in the inaugural “World’s Toughest Row – Pacific”.

“We have 11 days to complete our final preparations which include attending safety briefings arranged by the race organiser, packing all our daily food and snack bags, trying to fit all of our personal kit and all the equipment we need to carry with us onto the boat – which will be a challenge with five rowers on board - and undertaking our final test row,” she said before jetting to the States.

“The inaugural “World’s Toughest Row – Pacific” race starts on June 12 from Monterey Bay and we will row 2,800 miles across the Mid Pacific to finish in the “garden island” of Kauai, Hawaii.

“Only 82 people in 33 boats have successfully rowed from mainland USA to the Hawaiian islands, and no other crew of five has successfully made the crossing.

“And just a handful of people have successfully rowed across both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

“At some time during the row the nearest humanity, other than our team-mates, might be the astronauts in the Space Station 400km above,” added Elaine, who lit a candle for a safe crossing at St Pauls Cathedral on a recent trip to London.

“And to adhere to the race rules we must be completely unsupported and self-sustained during the row.The crossing should take around 35 to 45 days of continuous rowing, day and night, but is very much weather dependant.”

The other crew members are Ali Wannell from Devon, Andy Warner from Hampshire and Neil Blackeby from Cornwall.

Team Flyin’ Fish are supporting Air Ambulances UK, which includes Wales Air Ambulance and donations can be made via the Just Giving link at

They are also raising funds for the Soldiers’, Sailors’, and Airmen’s Families Association at