IT was happy 60th birthday for intrepid oarswoman Elaine Theaker on Friday, but she was all at sea – quite literally – rowing across the Pacific!

There was no plush restaurant or slap-up party for the Abergavenny mum-of-one, who took up rowing on the Wye at Monmouth Rowing Club 10 years ago, and crossed the Atlantic in a three-woman crew in 2018.

The fizz stayed on ice as Elaine and her five-boat Team FlyinFish crew, which includes former RAF serviceman Huw Carden from Dingestow, battled giant waves and winds, alongside sea sickness and sleep deprivation.

But retired solicitor Elaine had a special birthday present of seeing a whale, Sun Fish, a Porpoise and a pod of Dolphins.

The FlyinFish crew are now over a week into their attempt to row 2,800-miles across the Pacific.

They rowed out of Monterey Harbour in California at dawn a week last Monday (June 12), and a post on their FlyinFish Facebook page on Sunday (June 18) said: “Well, 6 days on the Ocean, for Flyin’ Fish, and what a week it has been.

“The weather and wind haven’t been kind to them, but on the upside they have seen plenty of wild life; a Whale, Sun Fish, a Porpoise and a pod of Dolphins.

“Sea sickness seems to have passed for them now, fingers crossed.”

Fourteen boats set off in the ‘World’s Toughest Row’ in a bid to reach Hawaii, and the fleet has already lost one crew.

And the row organisers posted at the weekend: “Dolphins, sharks and whales! What more could you ask for?

“Mother Nature has blessed our team of five with some wonderful magnificent wildlife sightings.

“With four team members of Flyin’ Fish having already crossed the Atlantic, they are well versed in the aches and pains at the start of an epic ocean crossing.

“Escaping the clutches of the California coastline is a formidable task, which is why you may have noticed there are no Solo rowers in the World’s Toughest Row – Pacific!

“Every single mile is fought hard – tooth and nail!

“Our determined fleet are giving it their all to break free from the relentless pull of the currents, aiming to reach the favourable trade winds.

“The Pacific Ocean is not going easy on our rowers! The winds and waves have been relentless!

“In the past 48 hours, several teams have sought refuge by deploying their para-anchors, a device that is used to stabilise and anchor their boat.

“There have been several edge-of-your-seat knockdowns, where boats momentarily roll to the side before swiftly recovering.

“The first five days are always tough, and these conditions prove to be no exception.

“Following some very tricky conditions, all of our crews are no longer on para-anchor and are making westward progress as the conditions have been much calmer.

“As anticipated, our teams are experiencing expected challenges like seasickness, soreness, and blistered hands. This is exactly what our teams have been putting countless hours of training in for, they have got this!

“On top of the sleep deprivation and physical challenge is that the climate is also much cooler, a unique feature to the Pacific in comparison to the Atlantic.

“This is why you’ll see our rowers much more layered up! It doesn’t stop there, the temperatures will also rise much hotter as our rowers draw closer to Kaua’i.

“Amidst these trials, moments of unimaginable beauty have made every single hardship worthwhile.

“The wildlife encounters have been absolutely spectacular. There have been sightings of humpback whales, dolphins, sharks, and even jellyfish have gracing our team’s journeys.

“Looking forward, our leading teams will be rowing back into windier weather patterns… Mother Nature holds nothing back! We are in awe of their spirit. Could you imagine being in a tiny boat surrounded as far as the eye can see by towering rolling waves?”

Elaine, who took up rowing at Monmouth Rowing Club 10 years ago, is seeking to become the oldest woman to row both the Atlantic and pacific oceans.

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

Keep up to speed with their progress at, on its YouTube channel and

The crew are supporting Air Ambulances UK at