Fedor Konyukhov Reaches Halfway Point on Southern Ocean Row

When last we checked in with Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov he was dodging storms in the Southern Ocean on his way to Cape Horn. Not much has changed since then, as the 67-year old ocean rower continues to make slow, but steady progress towards his goal. But earlier in the week he passed a significant milestone, reaching the halfway point on his first phase of this historic journey.

As you may recall, Konyukhov set off from Dunedin, New Zealand back in December with the goal of reaching Cape Horn on the southern tip of South Africa as the first leg of his voyage. If all goes well, he’ll start the second leg later this year, leaving the Horn for Cape Leeuwin in Australia. From there, he plans a third leg next year, which will take him from Australia back to his starting point in New Zealand. It is an epic and brutal undertaking thanks in large part to the course he is following.

The Southern Ocean is known for its turbulent and difficult waters, frigid temperatures, unexpected storms, and massive swells, all of which the Russian has already experienced on this trip. Still, he continues to press forward towards his ultimate goal. In a recent update, Konyukhov mentioned that he was battling strong winds that were creating 10 meter (33 foot) waves. Fortunately, that wind was from the north, which made things a bit warmer, but it did toss his rowboat about a bit.

On Wednesday of this week, Fedor reached an important part of the journey by reaching the midpoint of stage 1. He has now covered more than 3500 km and is leaving New Zealand controlled waters for those governed by Chile instead. This marks the longest distance that anyone has ever traveled in a rowboat across the Southern Ocean, as the Russian explorer has now been at sea for more than 60 days. As if that wasn’t enough, Konyukhov is also the oldest person to ever attempt to row an ocean solo and he has managed to take his boat down to 49ºS, which is a record too. The challenges aren’t over yet however, as he’ll have to drop below 51ºS in order to round Cape Horn. So far, he’s struggled to maintain such a southerly location.

While reaching the halfway point of this stage is a significant milestone, there is still an awfully long way to go to reach the finish line. The austral summer is also starting to draw to a close, which means contentions are about to get worse. February is generally the calm before the storm, with March becoming a bit more unpredictable and turbulent, especially as the weeks go by. That puts Fedor into a bit of a race against the clock, although he now seems to have found his rhythm and is making good time when weather permits. Storms and headwinds have conspired to slow him down, but he is persistent and determined –– two traits that will serve him well in this hostile environment.

Follow along with Fedor’s adventure on his official website.

Kraig Becker