Russian solo circumnavigator Fedor Konyukhov returned to Albany, Western Australia, a hero Wednesday, throwing down the gauntlet to yachtsmen around the world to break his 102 day record around the Antarctica Cup Racetrack (click to enlarge).
Fedor Konyukhov's 102 day record around the Antarctica Cup Racetrack

Posted: May 09, 2008 04:59 am EDT
(theOceans.net) Russian solo circumnavigator Fedor Konyukhov returned to Albany, Western Australia, a hero Wednesday, throwing down the gauntlet to yachtsmen around the world to break his 102 day record around the Antarctica Cup Racetrack. <cutoff>

For the bearded 56 year old sailor, this was his 4th solo circumnavigation. 'Will it be his last?', Fedor was asked "Having just spent 95 days in the Roaring Forty and Furious Fifty latitudes, I'm not planning to go back in the near future. But the Southern Ocean provides the most spectacular sailing conditions in the world. If I go again, it will be with a crew to make the most of the wild surfing rides you get down there." He answered.

Setting out from Albany with his Open 85ft monohull Trading Network Alye Parusa at 18:21:40 UTC (10:21:40 WST) on Australia Day 26th January to take on yachting's last great frontier. He braved a succession of storms, freezing temperatures, the ever present threat of icebergs and collisions with wales. Konyukhov came through it all unscathed, returning to King George Sound at 02: 56:50 UTC (10:56:50 WST) May 7 to record a time of 102 days 00 hours 56 minutes 50secs for this 16,400 mile circuit of Antarctica.

He had set out from Falmouth England on 12th October 2007, and discounting a 5 day stop in Cape Town and 2 weeks in Albany prior to the start, his 85ft yacht has been 'home' for the past 6 months. "We have done 30,000 miles together and now have the greatest respect for her. But I am looking forward now to a nice thick steak, a shower, clean sheets, and 12 hours of sleep. It sounds basic, but that is exactly what I need."

To commemorate this inaugural voyage, Bob Williams, Chairman of the Antarctica Cup Race Management announced that they will name Gate 12 (0° W - 0° E) within the Racetrack as the Konyukhov Gate.

<i>This explorer's tick list is outstanding: An unsupported South Pole ski, supported North Pole crossing (three NP trips all together), crossed the Atlantic 12 times (once in a rowboat!), climbed Everest and the rest of the seven summits, four circumnavigations of the world in a sailboat and rode the Great Silk Path on a camel.

His foremost sailing accomplishments are:

First solo sailor to complete the Antarctica Cup Racetrack.
First solo sailor to traverse the South Atlantic Ocean - Cape Horn to Cape Agulhas - below 45° South.
First solo sailor to sail non stop from 121°E - 110°E, 15,700 NM, below 40° south taking 95 days - 40 days of which were below 50°S.
First solo sailor to sail a maxi yacht solo around Antarctica.

In spite of the records, to Fedor, it's all a spiritual journey. "I am searching for an explanation for the sense of life through my journeys," he said.

Born into a family of fishermen in Priazovye, on the Azov Sea, Fedor also paints his expeditions. He has created 2,000 autolithographs, lithographs, etchings and pictures, many from his expeditions. Some of them can be purchased on his website.

The Southern Ocean extends from the coast of Antarctica north to 60 degrees south latitude. Ports and harbors are limited to McMurdo, Palmer, and few offshore anchorages in Antarctica limited by ice conditions. The sea is freezing and the ocean area from about latitude 40 south to the Antarctic Circle has the strongest average winds found anywhere on Earth. This is where Fedor Konyukhov, 56, was chasing his benchmark record.

Fedor sailed his 27 metre (88') boat "Alye Parusa" around the 14,600 nautical mile Antarctica Cup Racetrack and in doing so claimed the inaugural world record for sailing solo, non-stop, around this hard track, which circumnavigates Antarctica in the Southern Ocean.

Fedor's benchmark record was set as a prelude to the Antarctica Cup Race planned for 2009/10. The record attempt will be ratified by the World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC) to provide a benchmark for others to beat. </i>




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