Last week I posted an update on Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov’s attempt to row solo around the Southern Ocean. At the time, he had just passed a major milestone by reaching his 100th day alone out on the sea. In that story I remarked that the austral summer is now over and that poor weather conditions were likely not far off at this stage of the year. That prediction couldn’t have been more accurate, as Fedor ended up spending the weekend squaring off against the worst storm he has seen yet and he still has a long way to go before he reaches South America.
Not long after I posted my update, the Russian was hit by a massive storm of hurricane proportions. Wind speeds reportedly reached in excess of 90 km/h (55 mph), with waves reaching heights of more than 9 meters (30 feet). Worse yet, those waves were moving fast and in unpredictable fashion, causing Konyukhov to have to fight for his very life. At times, he says he was afraid that the boat would capsize lengthwise due to the intense ferocity of the winds and ocean. He even compared the situation to being in the “death zone” on Everest, saying, “The ocean has merged with the sky. The horizon is gone.”
The good news is that Fedor survived the storm and is currently repairing some of the damage and recovering from the beating he took. The bad news is, there are more storms on the way. In fact, he now faces a series of four major storms over the next week, anyone of which could lead to disaster. And since he is still a long way from reaching Cape Horn –– his end point for stage one of his attempt to row around the world –– if he runs into any major problems, he’s likely on his own.
As of now, Konyukhov still has 2900 km (1800 miles) to go before he nears his end point. That’s a long time with a turbulent ocean to deal with too. This next week will be very telling. If he can continue to make progress, while dealing with the increasingly-bad conditions, then he has a real shot at completing Stage 1. Considering Fedor’s impressive adventure resume, I wouldn’t ever bet against him.
If he makes it to Chile as planned, Stage 2 will begin later this year and task him with rowing from South America to Australia. Next year, he would then look to complete the journey by rowing from Australia back to New Zealand where he started. You can follow Fedor’s progress on his official website.
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