The Yacht Race Around The North Pole is On!

HR 1000 p Sailing North east passage 02

Back in June I posted about two separate expeditions that were both planning on making circumnavigation attempts around the North Pole via the Northeast and Northwest passages. One of those expeditions is being led by Norwegian explorer Børge Ousland who is joined by experienced sailor Thorleif Thorleifsson, while the other is a Russian backed ship, called the Peter 1. The two expeditions couldn’t be more different from one another, while Børge and Thorlief have taken a fast and lightweight ship into those dangerous waters, the Russians have selected an a larger, heavier, icebreaker to make their bid for completing the voyage. The former of those vessels is light and agile, but could suffer damage more easily, while the latter is strong and tough, but more ponderous in its approach.

Today, ExWeb has an update on what they call “the very unofficial North Pole Yacht Race.” The two ships are now into the Northeast Passage and attempting to sail on through to the Pacific Ocean, with both of them into the Labtev Sea and battling the ice. The NE Passage generally opens in late August, and at the moment, it seems like they’re playing the waiting game, hoping for the opportunity to get moving again.

Once it does open, they’ll roll into the Pacific and then on to the Northwest Passage, which has traditionally opened up in September the past few years. A voyage such as this one couldn’t have taken place even a few years ago, but due to the effects of global climate change, it has become a reality. One or both of these teams is going to complete the voyage, it is matter of who will finish first. Should be an interesting couple of months for the crews.

Kraig Becker

3 thoughts on “The Yacht Race Around The North Pole is On!”

  1. One distinction is that Børge Ousland's intention is to sail – they're trying not to use their engine for travel. I can't read the Russian site but if it's an icebreaker wouldn't it have to be powered?

  2. The term icebreaker probably isn't accurate in this case. I believe the Russian ship is indeed a sailboat as well, it just happens to be a much heavier, steel hulled ship that slices through the ice a lot better than the lighter boat that Borge is using.

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