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Hero sailor to circumnavigate Tasmania in sailing kayak

by Nancy Knudsen on 21 Dec 2012
Pete Goss on his sailing kayak .. .
Sailing hero Pete Goss - the sailor who became a world-wide celebrity hero when he rescued fellow competitor Raphaël Dinelli in the 1996 Vendée Globe solo around the world yacht race - is off on another adventure. He and his friend, long-time kayaker Andy Warrender, are preparing to circumnavigate Tasmania in sailing kayaks.

His last adventure, so unlike his Vendee Globe exploits, was sailing a wooden Cornish fishing boat from Newlyn in Cornwall, UK, to Melbourne, Australia.

The two hope to set off on December 29 and have chosen an anti-clockwise route which is likely to take up to two months to complete and the starting point is to be Devonport on the north coast.

All camping gear and provisions will be carried aboard the kayaks and Pete has designed a sailing rig for the boats to give wind assistance when conditions allow. They stress that it is not a race and that they fully intend to enjoy the scenery and wildlife along the way.

'Many of my previous adventures have been non-stop and I have often wished I had the time to explore places properly,' he said. 'Tasmania is a beautiful island with a varied and exciting coastline. There can be no better way to get close to it than in a sea kayak. We are making no claims and we are not trying to break any records. But I do want to test the sailing rig. Some of the earliest kayaks had sails and many sea-kayakers have experimented with them. We are taking the design further, using Andy's kayaking knowledge and my sailing experience.'

The Australian island of Tasmania is about the size of Ireland, approximately 800nm all the way round. They will be travelling anti-clockwise to make the best use of predominantly Northerly and Westerly winds on the most tricky sections.

Headwinds could be their biggest challenge. They can be particularly bad on the north coast at times. The west coast could be challenging as big swells roll in from the Antarctic and there are few landing spots, people or roads. The swells could easily be up to three metres high - if they are lucky.

Pete is no stranger to the rigours of the Southern Ocean, having sailed there aboard Spirit of Mystery in 2008 and during the 1996 Vendee Globe Challenge. During that race in hurricane-force winds, he scuppered his own chances of winning the race, turned his downwind racer into the winds and battled the Southern Ocean for two days in order to save Dinelli. He was awarded the MBE and France's Legion d'Honneur for his courage.

That experience should stand them in good stead as they tackle some tricky conditions. The island state of Tasmania sits on the south east corner of Australia, with approximately a third of its coastline facing the notorious Bass Strait and another third directly exposed to the Southern Ocean.


The two have gone adventuring together before. They took a trip to the North Pole together, and for last year's Gore-tex Challenge, they piloted six-metre ribs from Scotland to the Arctic Circle.

Andy said the idea for the Tasmania trip – which is being supported by hi-tech clothing firm Gore-tex – came during a family holiday spent touring Tasmania's rugged coast.

'I told Pete about it and he was immediately hooked,' he said. 'We both felt drawn to the adventure it had to offer.'

Sail-World Cruising will follow their progress, and you can follow it live on www.petegoss.com

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