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Thursday, 6 January, 2000, 12:24 GMT
Go girls: Women adventurers

Diana Hoff, the oldest woman to row the Atlantic Solo rower Diana Hoff calls on women to rise to the challenge

Lone rower Diana Hoff, who has become the oldest woman to complete a single-handed voyage across the Atlantic, is calling on other adventurous spirits to follow her example.

The 55-year-old Scot said her 113-day journey proved the record books are not the preserve of men they once were.

Thornewill and Hartley, first British women to trek to the South Pole Ice maidens: Fiona Thornewill and Catharine Hartley
Mrs Hoff points to the achievements of Catharine Hartley and Fiona Thornewill, who have just become the first British women to walk to the South Pole.

"Women have been progressively breaking down barriers for years, but this is another step forward," she said.

Although Mrs Hoff cannot claim to be the first woman to row from the Canary Islands to Barbados - she was pipped at the post by Tori Murden, 20 years her junior - she is not disheartened.

"I felt it was a challenge. People should take challenges, especially older women who are often discouraged from it."

Polar adventurers Hartley and Thornewill must certainly share the rower's resolve - they trekked more than 700 miles across the ice in temperatures as low as minus 48 Centigrade for their place in history.

Whitbread Round the World yachtswoman Emma Westmacott: A match for any yachtsman
Women are increasingly proving themselves as dedicated adrenaline junkies as men, who, until now, have dominated the record books.

In 1998's Whitbread Round the World Yacht race, billed as one of the toughest marine events, winning skipper Paul Cayard paid tribute to the only all-female team.

He said the EF Education team had learned much during the course of the 31,600-mile race, "and it's starting to show".

Crew member Emma Westmacott - who reported on the race for BBC News Online - said the opposition better beware when the event returns in 2001.

Centuries of discrimination against women have already robbed them of the chance to grab many Earthbound firsts.

Cosmonaut Helen Sharman, the first Briton in space Helen Sharman: Beat the Belgians into space
Space may help redress the balance. The final frontier - where brain counts more than brawn - has already proved a suitable arena for female achievement.

Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to go into orbit in June 1963 - joining an elite group of space travellers numbering less than a dozen.

Helen Sharman can boast to be the first Briton in space, beating the Swiss, Italians and Belgians.

Last summer saw the first woman taking charge of a Nasa space shuttle mission, increasing the prospect that the first footprint on Mars may not be a clumsy size 10.

Those wishing to heed Mrs Hoff's call to action, but still feeling the new year hangover, may consider taking a leaf out of Tiina Jussila's book.

Colonel Eileen Collins, Nasa's first female shuttle commander 'Hello, boys!': Shuttle commander Eileen Collins
The Finn is a bona fide record holder, being one half of the reigning World Wife-Carrying Championship team.

The crash-helmeted adventurer simply had to take it easy as husband Jouni negotiated a 235-metre obstacle course in Sonkajarvi, Finland.

The prize? Tiina's weight in beer. The things men will do, eh
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See also:
05 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Age no barrier to Atlantic crossing
04 Jan 00 |  UK
British women set for Pole record
19 Nov 97 |  Whitbread yacht race
All-female crew make up for lost time
29 Nov 97 |  Whitbread yacht race
Female crew battle through storm damage
23 Jul 99 |  Sci/Tech
Third time lucky for Columbia

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