Rower enjoys sweet smell of success

Russian rower Fedor Konyukhov celebrates after reaching the Chilean mainland, after 154 days at...
Russian rower Fedor Konyukhov celebrates after reaching the Chilean mainland, after 154 days at sea. PHOTO: IGNACIO PALMA
After setting foot on dry land for the first time in more than five months, the first thing out of Fedor Konyukhov's mouth was: "I can smell the earth, the grass, the trees ..."

A joyful Fedor Konyukhov on his arrival at Cape Horn. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
A joyful Fedor Konyukhov on his arrival at Cape Horn. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
The 67-year-old Russian is resting in Puerto Williams, in southern Chile, after rowing from Port Chalmers to Cape Horn in 154 days, covering a distance of 11,525km.

His joy was evident in an interview with Chilean Antarctic province government communications department journalist Ignacio Palma, when he arrived in Puerto Williams.

"Today, on his landing in Puerto Williams, Fedor communicates mainly in Russian - a language that I do not speak.

"But the kindness, happiness and complacency in the tone of his voice can be distinguished by anyone in this world.

"He smiles with humility after every explanation he gives, and his son Oscar translates into English," Mr Palma said.

Peering out from behind his long and dishevelled beard and hair, Mr Konyukhov said he had experienced many comforts and many challenges on his journey - from whales, dolphins and albatrosses to silence, solitude and storms that were sometimes "too undulating for the human mind".

Of the 150 days at sea, 100 of them were filled with storms that brought waves of up to 10m and wind gusts of 100kmh, he said.

The worst of the storms was about 1500km off the coast of Chile, when his boat, Akros, capsized four times, tearing off most of its solar panels and its wind indicator.

Back on dry land, while cleaning the inside of his boat and removing pools of water with a sponge, Mr Konyukhov explained why he had made the perilous journey.

"I do it to encourage people to travel and promote friendship between countries.

"For example, I have now arrived in Chile on a Russian boat and met the Chilean people.

"I have a support team from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and England.

"It's like a global co-operation. All countries are welcome.

"I make these projects not only for Russia, but for all human beings, for all people, to inspire new generations."

Mussels, barnacles and seaweed cover the bottom of Akros. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Mussels, barnacles and seaweed cover the bottom of Akros. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
After returning Akros' cabin to order, Mr Konyukhov told Mr Palma he was looking forward to dining at a local restaurant as he had been eating dehydrated food for the past five months.

Akros will now be shipped back to England for repairs before being returned to Cape Horn later this year for the second leg of Mr Konyukhov's round-the-world journey.

He plans to rest for a short time, but the adventure does not stop for him.

He now plans to fly a hot-air balloon into the stratosphere above Western Australia, and set a new height record of 25,000m.

The present world-record is held by Indian businessman Vijaypat Singhania, who reached 21,027m in November 2005.

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