Freya Hoffmeister in Vancouver

Just returned from seeing Freya’s talk of her Australia circumnavigation – it was awesome. She’s truly a first class act and she did a fantastic presentation of her trip to a crowd of about 200 local paddlers. Quite an inspiring account of her journey.

She spent about an hour before the presentation greeting everyone as they entered the theatre and I found her to be most personable and down to earth.

I’m really glad that I attended her talk and had the opportunity to meet and speak with her.

If you’re able to see her presentation when she’s in your neighborhood, I highly recommend it.


I love greatness
I shook hands with lawrence taylor. It would ne neat to heAR FREYA .

Truly great Dave!
My daughter and I also traveled to Victoria to see Freya as my daughter was invited to go for a paddle with her the day after the presentation. Freya is an awesome role model and my daughter was absolutely thrilled to paddle with her. We also had the good fortune of accompanying Freya on the ferry back to Vancouver. If anyone here has the opportunity to catch Freya on her speaking tour, please do go – you won’t be disappointed – she’s truly inspiring.

Here are some photos of the presentation in Victoria along with some pictures of my daughter paddling with Freya:

For those of you who aren’t sure about Freya because of all the criticism that’s been posted in this forum, take a read through this discussion – I think everyone who attended the presentation in Victoria (as well as the presentation in Vancouver) was nothing less than impressed:


Great Paddlers Discussion Forum topic

no doubt she is a great paddler
and has a strong will. One of the posters said, “I admire how she has the courage to do things for herself, and for no one else. That is real strength.” Very perceptive. I don’t know if it’s strength, but there’s a certain beauty and greatness in those who live for others too (I think of Ilyusha and his father in Brothers Karamazov).

Doing things for others like
Helen Skelton who is paddling the Amazon to raise money for charity.

SKM articles gave the impression that her kid was distraught. Of course if you stay with your kid there’s no greatness, no paddling around Australia. I think it would be out of place to ask her about that in a filled room. But that’s the question I’d like to hear more about.

I think you misunderstand me.
Helen Skelton has been castigated on the other board by one or two and yet she is paddling to raise money for others.

Who is Freya doing it for ?

I suspect
I suspect that if someone asked her about her son during one of her talks that she’d have no problem addressing the subject. She was very straight forward about anything that was asked of her regarding the trip.

I had opportunity to talk with her one on one and we did talk about her son – her son is an extremely important person in her life and I didn’t get the impression that she was abandoning him at all – in fact, far from it. He is living with her ex-husband and still is – he was always in good care. As far as her son being upset (I think distraught might be the wrong word) when she left – of course he was, she was embarking on a huge journey where there were many dangers. What 13 year old kid wouldn’t react that way?

It is strength
That was my 15 year old daughter who posted that. What she meant by that statement is that Freya found the drive and determination to do the trip completely from within – she didn’t have a need to do the trip with the intent to impress anyone but herself. My daughter is very ambitious and is at an age where she’s trying to determine where her motivation to succeed comes from – Freya showed her something very valuable and it had a profound effect on her.

As far as doing something like this for a cause – yes, you’re absolutely correct – there is nobility and greatness in that. But consider this; did Edmund Hillary have a cause other than human spirit to climb Mount Everest? Did Derek Hutchinson raise money for a cause when he crossed the North Sea? Did Nigel Dennis raise money for a cause when he circumnavigated South Georgia? Does Justine Curgenven have a charity when she does her expeditions? These people do not do the things they do to bring awareness to other causes, they achieve because that in itself is the benefit to humanity – to show that the limits can be pushed and that the human spirit can overcome great challenges.

Some things you do just because you do them. Freya has, I think, received a lot of unjust criticism for her achievements where others are heralded – she really doesn’t deserve the negativity – her accomplishments are huge and she really is a lovely person. Attend one of her talks, and I’ll guarantee that you’ll come away from it feeling inspired, and with a whole different level of respect for her. She definitely left a lasting impression on my daughter – and myself too.


Nicely said
Thank you.

I would feel uncomfortable
asking about such a personal thing in public. I suspect she would feel uncomfortable discussing such a personal subject in public too. One would hope she has boundries.

I think distraught is still the right word. The way the SKM article portrayed it, her son begged her not to leave. You make it sound as if he were worried about her and the risks. At that age, I submit, it’s more likely he was thinking about himself and his needs. That was the impression the SKM article gave.

This is not meant to diminish her accomplishment–she’s a tremendous athlete, it was an entire continent, she has incredible stamina and will. It’s just the ethical component doesn’t seem to be at the level of the rest.

I’m not promoting causes
that’s cockneykayaker’s bugaboo. If you saw that as the thrust of my post, you misunderstood. As far as causes go, I’m a purist and side the other way: I haven’t seen a kayaking trip that’s cured cancer yet. That was my complaint at Renata Chlumska’s treatment on this board. People criticized her because she was “just doing it”–she wasn’t paddling “for a cause”.

I see Freya as a tragic figure, full of contradictions. On the one hand there is no disputing her great accomplishments and almost superhuman will power. On the other hand, there is her flaunting of bourgeois morality–the shameless use-em-and-dump-em relationships. The true accomplishment here was her almost ubermenschian ability to overcome the inner imparative of a mother to be there for its young. But there was no Australia without leaving home. Therefore a tragic patina to the achievement not seen since antiquity.

How do I get my ex-wife to paddle around Australia for 11 months and leave my boys with me? That’s what I want to know.

Nice pics !

not bad
You show a good amount of thoughtfulness about the depth of this personality. More often the rule than the exception.

I’m curious
Have you ever met her?

Have you met her son?


– Last Updated: Feb-16-10 9:24 PM EST –

Quite frankly, I think it's a bit irresponsible of you to publicly voice such a negative opinion of someone that you've never met while hiding behind the anonymity of a keyboard.

From what I've read here and at other places on the web, nearly all who have met her, have a very different opinion than your own.

Perhaps it would be prudent to hold back a bit on your negative and judgmental comments until you've actually met her. At such a time, I'll put more stock in your opinions.


I’ll take that as a no

– Last Updated: Feb-17-10 9:20 AM EST –

You want your heros to be all good and your villains all bad. That's a quaint view. A little outdated, but refreshingly naive.

The question isn't whether she is likable. The question is where she falls on the continuum of neglecting her child. She's coming to SF. If I hear her side of the story you think I'll be won over too?

Edit: I'll put more stock in your opinion when you begin to demonstrate some concern for the son's point of view.

All I can do is laugh. NM.