Ukrainian yacht crew in Antarctic record - and more to come

Scorpius, heading for more records in 30 months
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Ukrainian-Russian crew aboard sailing yacht Scorpius has claimed to set a new world record in sailing farther south into the Ross Sea, west Antarctica, than any other boat has gone. The 30 meters (98 ft) Scorpius has become the first yacht to reach 77 degrees south latitude, according to Ukraine News Agency UNIAN.

The Scorpius set sail on September 25, 2011, from Ukraine's Sevastopol sea port. It has taken them almost six months to reach the rarely navigated Ross Sea in the Antarctica.

From the Ross Sea the yacht will now be headed towards Ukrainian Akademik Vernadskyy Antarctic station. The yacht is expected to reach Vernadskyy station in a week's time, sailing for some two thousand miles.

But that's not all. Reaching 77 degrees south latitude was the first in the series of records Scorpius' crew of eight (four Ukrainians and four Russians) have in mind, explained the yacht's captain Sergey Nizovtsev.

Another record to be set is sailing around Antarctica south of the 60th degree and around the North Pole at around 65-70 degrees - within one Polar Year!

The yacht crew plans to sail for 30 continuous months, setting a record in the duration of sailing, covering the total distance of 70,000 nautical miles. The length of the route would become the fourth record of the crew. They have no plans to return to land before sailing through all the five oceans.

Sergei Nizovtsev, owner and skipper of Scorpious, during their stop in Hobart
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On its way to the South Pole Scorpius suffered through a hurricane, which caused the vessel a lot of damage. The crew had to stop in Tasmania for repairs. This also proved lucky as they were able to refuel and restock food and drinking water supplies before continuing on their route towards Antarctica.

'After the hurricane, the miraculously survived yacht with torn sails was left with almost no navigational aids and communications. In Tasmania for two weeks the crew replaced the sails, put a new antenna ‘Iridium’ and overhauled most of the units,' said Serhii Savenkov, the First Vice-Governor of Aqyar, citing the captain of the yacht Serhii Nizovtsev.

As they persevered southwards and the drifting ice blocks became more frequent the crew had no other choice but to push them away with long boat hooks. Nizovtsev, nevertheless, expressed hope that in a couple of days there would be less ice on the way, and the yacht would finish its South Pole leg of the route without further trouble.

Letter received from reader:

Sender: Rohan Veal

Message: I think this guy might find that Steve Coakley (USA) went as far south as 77 degrees & 50 minutes on a Moth, in the McMurdo Sound - 5 Feb 1965.

A photo of the Moth, designed by Hal Wagstaff and built by his brother Gary in Wellington NZ, hangs even today in the Antartic base at McMurdo Sound.