Marina Hunziker from Lucerne
“Then we’ll paddle across the Pacific!”
In June, Marina Hunziker of Megen paddled the 4,500 km from California to Hawaii with her team of four “ohana”. Last year she rowed across the Atlantic.
Marina Hunziker and Sonja Graf rowed their 5.40m x 1.80m rowboat single-handedly with brawn power across the Atlantic Ocean.
The Lucerne women needed 75 days, ten hours and six minutes to travel the 5,285 kilometers between the Canary Islands and the Caribbean. At the time, they were collecting donations for children and young people affected by poverty in Switzerland at the Challenge.
Paddling in windy weather: It is possible to use the right equipment. However, if there was lightning, the two Swiss women had to go into the sheltered cabins.
“At night you can hardly see the unbreakable waves in the open sea. You learn to hear them. However, one night a wave broke right in front of our boat. If I had not acted reflexively, we would have turned. Fortunately, I just got wet. But the rudder did not work. “It broke and a replacement rudder had to be found,” says Hunziker.
“A few days after takeoff, we noticed that the battery was draining very quickly. The result: after three days we had no electricity. Without autopilot and without light, we continued paddling for the next few days and nights with the help of our headlights, which we used to light the compass at night.”
Everyday things such as washing in the sea also happen. “We wash clothes in the laundry sink with soap and salt water. Rinse with fresh water. Soap softens the skin on your hands, so washing them can be difficult. My hands are sore from paddling. Zinc ointment is your best friend,” the 32-year-old says, laughing.
This will be the trail that Hunziker and her team will cover in June. The route roughly corresponds to the linear distance between Lucerne and Dubai. Like the Atlantic Challenge, the Pacific Challenge was completed unescorted.
And this is her team (from left to right): Marina Hunziker, 32 years old (Switzerland), Iris Nordzig, 56 years old (Netherlands), Matt Steinlein, 44 years old (USA), and Paul Laure, 60 years old (USA). Through their adventure, the four raise money for research into pediatric tumors and for American veterans.
The Ohana 2023 team has been preparing hard for the race for months. “Everyone has an individual training plan. I go to the gym three to four times a week, do a deep muscle workout with EMS muscle training once a week, swim and row on the rowing machine at home. I’m on the lake to cool off.”
In June, Marina Hunziker from Lucerne and her team will cruise across the Pacific Ocean in the 2023 Pacific Ocean Challenge.
Together with three other rowers, Hunziker wants to cover 4,500 km in 45 days.
In 2022, Hunziker is paddling across the Atlantic with teammate Sonia Graf, from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean.
What was a joke at dinner with the “Ohana 2023” team will become reality in June: Marina Hunziker from Megen will cross the Pacific Ocean with two teammates and one female teammate in a four-person carbon boat completing the Pacific Challenge. A year ago, I crossed with Sonia Graf, also from Lucerne, as the first Swiss women’s rowing team on a boat from Gaby thighs Atlantic Ocean.
“The camaraderie of the group was the deciding factor in the decision to take on the Pacific Challenge,” says the 32-year-old. “We all have the same black humor. That connects and makes it easier,” Hunziker says. Graf will not be there this time for personal reasons.
The four team keeps their fans and relatives updated on their Instagram account. In one post, they showed the progress of the four-day training in Florida for the 4,500-kilometre, 45-day trek.
We don’t take life too seriously and we laugh a lot.
According to her, open communication is the perfect solution for rowing, living in cramped quarters and on the open sea. “During the multi-day training sessions in Holland and Florida, the team worked very well, so don’t worry about this,” says Hunziker.
“After safety, fun is the top priority for all of us. However, you tell others when you can’t take the jokes. Little things like putting your favorite bunny with your favorite snack on your pillow mate just made everyday life on the saltwater so much sweeter.” The adventure is funded by sponsors and crowdfunding.
“You are experiencing something both physically and mentally”
Everyday things happen differently on the water: “The toilet is a bucket. They get to know each other in a special way,” Hunzker says and laughs. “We use wet wipes to wipe off sunscreen and sweat after each rowing shift to avoid blisters and injuries. With a weekly cleaning of algae on the underside of the boat, we take a good shower and wash our hair.”
Team members support each other. “During a recent rafting adventure, I hallucinated from exhaustion. I saw people on the boat that I talked to keep myself awake,” says Hunzker. “Sonja, who was on a break and wanted to sleep, knew. You need to tell each other these things or what you fear so that you can act properly as a team in exceptional situations. »
Class for two hours and rest for two hours
Rowing is done in teams of two. While one team lines up for two hours, the other team sleeps, bathes, eats, and completes tasks in one of the booths. During their last rafting adventure, they had food that could only be eaten with a spoon. The food is rationed and resistant to the new bite. “I missed biting into something.”
“I look forward to sunsets and sunrises the most. And wildlife.” From sharks and turtles to whales, the women of Lucerne have seen it all on the Atlantic Ocean. “These are the moments that make the trip worthwhile,” says Hunziker. Hunziker and Graf also documented their journey through the deep blue via Instagram last year.
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