Adventure

Fedor Konyukhov becomes first to complete solo row across Southern Ocean

written by Oceanographic Staff

Priest, adventurer and balloonist Fedor Konyukhov has become the first person in history to complete a solo voyage on a row boat across the Southern Ocean.

His journey took him 11,525km from the New Zealand port of Dunedin to the southernmost tip of Chile. On May 9th, he crossed the longitude of the Chilean Diego Ramirez Islands in the Drake Passage. The whole journey took 154 days and 13 hours, and he was travelling in the treacherous forties and fifties latitudes. At 67 years old, he is also the oldest single rower to make the voyage and has also spent the largest number of days in the Southern Ocean.

“I can smell the earth, the grass, the trees, because in the ocean there is no smell,” said Konyukhov, speaking to Chilean media after his arrival. He added that he had around 50 days of relatively good weather conditions, while the rest featured storms with wind gusts of up to 100km per hour and ten metre waves. Indeed, he was welcomed to the Diego Ramirez Islands by hurricane-force winds.

“Now I have arrived in Chile in a Russian boat and I met the Chilean people,” he said. “I have a support team from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and England. The boat was built in England, the trip began in New Zealand. It’s like a global corporation.”

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His nine metre boat, AKROS, was turned over four times, and he lost part of its solar panels, which were crucial to a water desalination machine. AKROS was designed and custom-built by British company Rannoch Adventures and took two years of planning.

“Fedor Konyukhov has turned a new page in the history of successful passages across the Southern Ocean. Prior to Fedor’s successful crossing, there were five attempts with different starting points: Tasmania, New Zealand and even the Falkland Islands, all of which failed,” wrote his son, Oscar Konyukhov, who was on board the support vessel Austalis. “Fedor was the first human to reach the finish line.”

This is just one leg of Konyukhov’s journey – he’s embarking on a 27,000km solo circumnavigation of the world, which started from Dunedin in early December 2018. He will embark on the second leg of the trip in December, departing from Chile to Cape Lyuin, Australia. The plan is that in December 2020, he will make the final leg from Australia to New Zealand, though finish points might change depending on weather conditions.

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Konyukhov has already circumnavigated the globe four times and has crossed the Atlantic Ocean 15 times on sailing yachts, once on the rowing boat Uralaz. His dizzying array of extraordinary and near annual expeditions date back to 1977, when he went out on a research expedition on board Chukotka on the Vitus Bering route. In recent years, he climbed the summit of Everest along the Northern Range (from Tibet). Konyukhov became the first priest of the Russian Orthodox Church to complete the ascent of Everest. In 2016, he made the fastest round-the-world flight for balloons of any type, which took him eleven days, four hours and twenty minutes.

Konyukhov’s records will be verified with the International Ocean Rowing Society and will then be submitted to the Guinness Book of World Records.

 

Photographs courtesy of Facebook.com / Fedor Konyukhov / konyukhov.ru

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