re-sized madway south - wind in their sails

The MadWaySouth team have the wind in their sails…

The race between two New Zealanders and 2 Aussies has begun after an epic voyage to the starting gates…

It took them 6 and a half days for the Antipodeans to get from their respective countries to Agadir – a torturerous journey of flights, cars and ferries with a healthy dose of jet lag  included.

Having flown via Los Angelos to London, they collected their two landcruisers, trailer and kit which had been sent ahead in containers and barely stopping to catch breath caught the 24 hour ferry past France and began the long journey down through Spain where they caught another ferry across the Straits of Gibralter  to Africa – at last. However, there were still the Atlas Mountains to cross to reach Agadir – the starting point of the race. Altogether about 2,500 kms  from London to Agadir.


It might amuse you to know that I have skied in the Atlas Mountains (Morocco) – a whole different experience! It was a while ago so things have probably improved, but when I did (not that long ago) our equipment dated from roughly the 30/40’s era!!! The skis were not dissimilar to planks and the enormous buckets on our enormously long ski poles gave rise to many an amused chuckle. As for the yards and yards of bindings…. Well!

However, I digress…

Yesterday, 4th August, was spent checking all the gear and getting it ready for their extreme journey. As Steve Gurney says:

“We soon become aware of how close to red-line many of us are. We’ve had very little sleep and some tempers are getting a bit frazzled. It’s testimony to the team spirit that is growing stronger by the minute that the caliber of the team members is strong and we have the resources to achieve our high goal. I’m also aware how many “MacGuivers” we have! This Sahara adventure, like moths to light-bulbs, has attracted resourceful, solutions men. We’ve already been building brilliance with bare hands and duct-tape! Nothing is gonna stop us!” – and this despite the fact that he was knocked off his motorbike shortly before embarking on this trip and is already suffering from a bruised rear end!


The men will wear special goggles and sandsuits to protect them from sandstorms and will carry food and water in trailers.An eight-man support team and film crew will follow in the landcruisers, but for some of the journey a lack of roads means the crew will be out of contact for part of the time.
Lest you have forgot – this is a race where 4 kite buggies aim to cross 2,500kms of the world’s toughest terrain in a bid to become the first to have ever crossed this desert with wind power alone. They also hope to break the world record distance for kite-buggy travel which stands at 1,000km at the moment, AND aim for a new record for the distance covered by a kite-buggy in 24 hours – currently standing at 400kms.  Wind conditions have  so far looked favourable for the trip with “about six hours of useful wind each day”. However, to add to the discomfort,  the area is experiencing a heatwave with “the hottest temperatures they’ve seen for 20 years”.

The four men, Christchurch’s Steve Gurney, Ashburton’s Craig Hansen, (for New Zealand) and Australians Geoff Wilson and Garth Freeman, are hoping to average 40km/h…

This trip is not all about extremes, endurance and breaking records. They also hope to raise money for the She Rescue Home charity, which helps girls escape the Asian child-sex trade.

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