One individual, one boat, three oceans – this extreme challenge has never before been attempted.
I would like to introduce you to Ollie Hicks, a 26 year old Brit who is about to attempt one very extreme adventure and that is to circumnavigate the globe in a rowing boat! Crazy? Well probably but then people would have said that of anyone who tackled the ‘impossible’ – the list of names is too numerous but throughout our history there has always been a first – from the oceans, deserts, space, mountains and continents – and here we have another intrepid explorer ready to risk life and limb to achieve that accolade.
But this adventure is not just about being the first: Hicks is hoping to raise £1,000,000 for charity as well as collecting scientific and medical data and highlighting the effects of global warming on our planet as well as demonstrating what can be achieved by using renewable energy sources.
The Global Row will also be working to raise awareness of climate change and global warming and showing that it is possible to live off alternative energy sources such as solar and wind power.
It is particularly fitting that the Global Row should depart this year in the middle of International Polar Year which aims to focus attention on the Northern and Southern Polar regions.
The journey will encompass a region which has already been significantly affected by climate change.
- The Southern Ocean has warmed up by 0.17C between 1950 and 1980
- In 1995 the Larsen A ice shelf disintegrated from the Antarctic Peninsula.
- In 2002 1,250 Sq. miles of the Larsen B ice shelf collapsed in 35 days.
- Warming in Antarctica is 5 times the international average +2.5C
- The melt season has increased by 2-3 weeks in the last 20 years.
- The Adelie penguin population has shrunk by 33% in 25 years due to decline in winter sea ice habitat.
The basis of the voyage is to utilise the favorable currents and winds in the Southern Ocean. The expedition will leave New Zealand later this year and head towards 50 – 55 degrees south latitude and into the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC), this is also the midst of the Furious fifties where the prevailing westerly winds swirl around the planet. These winds and current will help maximize Hicks’ daily mileage and by staying above 60 degrees south the worst of the cold and ice will be avoided.
By following the 55 degrees south line across the Pacific Hicks will pass through the Drake passage and past Cape Horn aiming to make landfall on South Georgia for a resupply and to overwinter for 4 – 5 months. From South Georgia Hicks will continue eastward across the Atlantic ocean passing well to the south of the Cape of Good Hope and into the Indian Ocean before an intended return to New Zealand, some 18 to 24 months after departing.
The Southern Ocean has long been regarded by mariners as the wildest of the oceans and has been described to in much maritime literature and legend. Sea temperatures vary from about 10C to -2C. Cyclonic storms travel eastward around the continent and are frequently intense because of the temperature contrast between ice and open ocean. The ocean area from latitude 40 degrees south to to the Antarctic circle has the strongest average winds found anywhere on earth. In winter the ocean freezes outward to 65 degrees south in the Pacific sector and 55 degrees south in the in the Atlantic sector.
At these latitudes – the roaring 40s, furious 50s and screaming 60s will be prevalent and with no landmass to slow them down they always present an extreme challenge to any mariner. Huge icebergs miles in length and width, smaller bergs and sea ice are ever present. High winds, mountainous waves, powerful storms, fog and poor visibility will all have to be negotiated. Perhaps the greatest risk to Hicks’ boat is accumulation of ice on the deck and superstructure, in certain conditions this can form thick and fast compromising the stability of the boat. And what hope of a friendly helicopter appearing overhead in the event of a disaster……..well your guess is as good as mine when you are a thousand miles from the nearest base.
We at Xtremesort4u wish Ollie the best of luck and we will keep you, our readers, informed of this remarkable voyage as and when he sets out.
Hicks’ intended journey – starting from Wellington, New Zealand, November 2008, 15,000 miles, scheduled completion 18 to 24 months later, Wellington, New Zealand