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Sail a Laser from California to Hawaii?

Tania in action. Some say the ex-Olympian is the greatest Mexican sailor of all time. And these days she has some very ambitious plans. 

© 2016 Conade

We agree that it’s a very audacious goal to singlehand a 130-pound boat 2,500 miles from California to Hawaii. But perhaps just a little less audacious the more you know about it.

Sailing from California to Hawaii is the goal of 37-year-old Mexican sailor Tania Elias Calles, for whom sailing has been a passion since she was 10 years old. Her original dream was to win an Olympic medal. While she didn’t win a medal, she participated in four Olympics and became ranked #1 in the world. She retired from Olympic competition four years ago. Tania does hold a Guinness World Record — for singlehanding a Laser the longest distance, from Cabo San Lucas to Puerto Vallarta in 2010.

Tania Elias Calles plans to singlehanded a Laser to Hawaii as a means to an even greater sailing goal.

© 2016

Her new goal is to participate in the Vendée Globe, a singlehanded around-the-world race, in 2020. "Participating in such a global event requires large fund sponsors," says Tania, "and in order to attract them I need to generate international media exposure and create a personal brand attractive to them. To achieve this, I decided to make history in the most dangerous and demanding adventure — sailing a 14-ft Laser from California to Hawaii, a distance eight times longer than when I established my current record in 2010."

Based on her previous experience, Tania figures it will take her about 20 days. How do you sleep on a Laser? See the accompanying photograph.

How do you sleep on a Laser, which, at 130 pounds, is prone to capsizing in even moderate weather? The face-down straddle position is probably the most effective, although it can’t be very comfortable.

© 2016 Tania Elias

Perhaps to prove she’s not completely crazy, Tania will have a boat follow her the entire way to monitor her health and provide medical assistance if necessary. She plans to set sail next summer (2017).

To put her proposed voyage in context, Carlos Aragon, also of Mexico, singlehanded from Mexico to the Marquesas, an even longer distance than from Mexico to Hawaii, in a Finn. That boat is 14 feet, 9 inches, and weighs 236 pounds. The Laser is 13 feet, 9 inches, and weighs a little more than half as much.

To further put things in context, sailors have made incredible voyages in boats smaller than a Laser. For example, in 1968 Hugo Vihlen sailed his 6-ft-long April Fool from Casablanca, Africa, to Miami. In 1989, Kenichi Horie sailed his 19-ft 6-in Mermaid from San Francisco to Japan. And from 1984 to 1987, Serge Testa, a former resident of Berkeley, sailed his 12-ft Acrohc Australis all the way around the world.

If we’re not mistaken, the difference between those even smaller boats and Tania’s Laser is that they offered at least a tiny bit of protection from the elements.

Tania believes that she needs $150,000 to achieve her goal, and to date has raised 29% of that. If you’d like to be a contributor, visit this site

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It goes without saying that risks to life and limb — as well as to boats — are inherent in yacht racing.