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Goss and Warrender start their sailing kayak adventure round Tasmania

by Nancy Knudsen on 31 Dec 2012
Pete Goss on his sailing kayak .. .
British hero sailor Pete Goss - the sailor who turned his downwind racer into stormy seas in the Southern Ocean for two days to rescue fellow competitor Raphaël Dinelli in the 1996 Vendée Globe solo around the world yacht race - has had a bumpy start with his friend Andy Warrender as they set off yesterday to complete their circumnavigation of Tasmania by sailing sea kayaks.

Strong headwinds, heavy kayaks and a broken rudder combined with jet lag to make especially tough paddling for the pair as they made their way along the coast from their starting point at Devonport, Tasmania.

Day one involved a delayed start as Pete’s kayak came out of the shipping container with a broken rudder. But after a repair and a quick kip they set off for the first time, with a short 20 kilometre hop along the coast battling 30kph headwinds.

With a second day’s distance now under their belt, they are settling into a routine and have now completed about 55 kilometres. So far, the coastline is pretty civilised and overnight stops have involved a real bed and solid roof, but as the terrain gets more remote it will be nights under canvas for the team. Carrying all their camping kit and food has made the kayaks heavier to paddle than expected, although Pete says that they handle perfectly despite the extra load.

The journey will be made using a combination of sails and paddles, according to the weather.

A still jet-lagged and bleary-eyed Pete said: 'It has been two years in the making and today it felt like the trip came to life. It’s a great feeling as we look forward to taking on and enjoying everything that Tasmania has to offer.'

Pete is enjoying being back on the water and also experiencing it in a way he hasn’t on previous adventures: 'One has a very intimate relationship with the water on a kayak and, like meeting a new person, you have no idea what a new piece of water will be like.'

So far the weather has been reasonably kind, but there is a long way to go before the intrepid duo complete the 1500 kilometre voyage.

As with all Pete’s adventures, people can follow his progress on the website petegoss.com, where there is a live tracker, pictures, video posts and blog updates.

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.

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

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

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