The route chosen by Phileas Fogg and his friends in "Around the World in 80 days". No antipodes reached and never crossed the equator - not quite a global circumnavigation. Looks long enough though, doesn't it? That's because the image is a Mercato projection making objects away from the equator appear larger than they really are, distorting the distances (notice how big Greenland seems - in reality it's only about a third of that size).
Image by ExplorersWeb courtesy ExplorersWeb, SOURCE
350 years before Phileas Fogg; Magellan and his crew showed how to do it the right way. Magellan perished but 18 of his men made it around the world reaching two antipodes.
But soon Jason was in deep himself, when it came to rules defining a world circumnavigation. Image of Lewis human powered route imposed on a regular map and a mirror map to show that the antipodes have been reached.
When looking at the world this way, it becomes clear that the difference in distances between various 'world circumnavigations' can be quite big. Red Circle showing a circumnavigation of Antarctica. Blue Circle showing a Great Circle meeting the antipode requirements.
ExWeb Circumnavigation special: What is around the world ?

Posted: Jul 17, 2007 02:33 pm EDT
(TheOceans.net/ThePoles.com) In Jules Vernes classic novel Around the World in 80 days" Phileas Fogg and his friends traveled around the world in this time frame. They won the bet, but it was not around the world. Starting out from London; their southernmost point reached was Singapore, still north of the Equator.

In defense of Verne and Mr. Fogg; the goal was rather to show people of the time the possibilities of traveling the world with new technological innovations than to set an exact record.

In fact, in the world of loose claims of around-the-world circumnavigations, anything goes: After skiing from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole, a friend explorer made a run around the South Pole marker, claiming an around the world record of 5 seconds.

Around the world true circumnavigation

The word circumnavigate is based in geometry and means to travel around something, like a continent or the earth. The circumnavigation should by definition be around the entire object, or what is called a 'great circle'.

The great circle distance on Earth is roughly 40,000 km; marking the minimum distance needed for the label circumnavigation of the earth.

As it's hard to travel in a straight line (a perfect circle), the way to ensure that a great circle is accomplished is to reach at least two 'antipodes'. (Antipodes = two diametrically opposite places on Earth).

Magellans team the first to make a true circumnavigation

350 years before Mr. Foggs trip; in 1519 Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan set out on an ocean voyage with 5 ships and a crew of 270 men. 2 years later, Magellan was killed by Philippine tribes. In fact, only 18 seamen led by Juan Sebastián Elcano would make it back, becoming the first to complete a true circumnavigation of the earth with the ship Victoria in 1522.

The trip extended over 3 years, 78,000km and reached two antipodes. Among the discoveries of the trip was the need of a date line and the understanding that travel around the world in Easterly direction will gain one day, a fact showing that Mr. Fogg was maybe not the most well prepared traveler.

The adventure stats definition of a true circumnavigation

A true circumnavigation of the earth (around the world) according to Adventurestats must:

Start and finish at the same point, traveling in one general direction
Reach two antipodes (Antipodes = two diametrically opposite places on Earth)

From the above follows that a true circumnavigation must:
Cross the equator
Cross all longitudes
Cover a minimum of 40,000km or 21,600NM (a great circle)

These definitions or close variations are used by solo sailors, most human powered circumnavigators, and record keepers such as the World Sailing Speed Record, the Ocean Rowing Society and Guinness Book of Records.

Human Powered circumnavigations

Nobody has yet completed a human powered circumnavigation of the earth. British US resident Jason Lewis is closest, expected to finish his 13 year journey in Greenwich later this year. Runner up is Turkish US resident Erden Eruc, who recently took off on his Pacific leg in a rowing boat.

In 2006, Colin Angus completed a 43,000km human powered around-the-world trip. Colin was awarded a special mention at Best of Explorersweb for his achievement as well as Best of National Geographic Adventure. Colins remarkable trip however did not meet the requirements of reaching two Antipodes and was routed only in the northern hemisphere.

Polar marker and other circumnavigations

The 5 second around the world trip our friend claimed was false and should more correctly be labeled 'an around the South Pole marker trip'. Likewise, a sail around Antarctica is just that and not an around the world trip.

To Phileas Fogg and Colin we would suggest the term 'around the Northern Hemisphere'.

The "Around the World" concept as defined by WSSRC

Where the Guinness Book of Records founders simply stated that "a world circumnavigation shall cross two antipodes," the World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC) who is the main instance for offshore sailing rules and definitions use a slightly different definition of "Around the World". The definition is geometrically not a perfect circle or a true circumnavigation, and the term "circumnavigation" is not used by WSSRC.

The WSSRC definition has been adopted to better correspond with practical problems involved with 'Around-the World' sailing races. The definition however comes very close to a true circumnavigation.

The WSSRC definition should be seen as an absolut minimum requirement to be met for the populistic label "Around-the-World." The definition should however only by applied for sailing races and is not enough for the label "true circumnavigation" aimed for by explorers.

Definition by WSSRC:

Around the World, eastbound and westbound:
To sail around the World, a vessel must start from and return to the same point, must cross all meridians of longitude and must cross the Equator. It may cross some but not all meridians more than once (i.e. two roundings of Antarctica do not count). The shortest orthodromic track of the vessel must be at least 21,600 nautical miles in length calculated based on a 'perfect sphere'. In calculating this distance, it is to be assumed that the vessel will sail around Antarctica in latitude 63 degrees south. A vessel starting in the Southern Hemisphere has to round an island or other fixed point in the Northern Hemisphere but only once that will satisfy the minimum distance requirement.


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