At one with the boat as going gets tough

Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov has passed the halfway mark in his rowing journey from Dunedin...
Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov has passed the halfway mark in his rowing journey from Dunedin to Cape Horn, Chile. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery.
Conditions in the Southern Ocean are becoming increasingly challenging for Fedor Konyukhov, but the Russian adventurer remains stubbornly focused on achieving his goal.

The 67-year-old has rowed more than halfway in his 7400km journey from Dunedin to Cape Horn, Chile.

"I was asked to briefly summarise the first half of the voyage. I would say it was difficult to start with and then grew more and more difficult.

"Thank God I am alive and relatively well. On a journey like this, if you get sick, you aren't going to get better, but at the moment my constitution is coping.''

He said so far, his age was not getting in the way, and believed his experience in such voyages was proving advantageous.

He believed a younger man may have found it just as difficult to withstand the conditions.

He spends much time drifting in the wrong direction and treading water.

"Of course it is difficult physically, but far more difficult mentally.

"You have to have patience on voyages like this. Humility and fortitude are very important here.''

Mr Konyukhov said passing the halfway mark was now providing inspiration for him.

"Experience tells me that the second half of the voyage will be even more difficult.

"With every day, the boat and I will go further south toward Cape Horn and Antarctica.

"But from now on, I know that the distance covered will grow while the distance to the finish diminishes.''

He has been battling storms lasting days, and each new storm was more powerful than the previous one, as autumn approaches.

"The waves are huge. The distance between the waves is half a kilometre. Powerful, foamy wave crests pass over the boat.

"It is not possible to cook anything. I just drink water.

"But that is OK. With God's help, the boat and I will live through it this time as well.

"I am now united with her. I feel any change in the movement of the boat. Any knock or sound on the hull have a meaning to me.

"Seventy days on board a rowing boat in the Southern Ocean is a seriously long time, and it begins to seem like there is no other world.''

Mr Konyukhov's row to Cape Horn is the first of three legs in his 27,000km world record attempt to journey from Dunedin, past Cape Horn, South Africa, South Australia and back to Dunedin.

john.lewis@odt.co.nz


 

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