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Konyukhov heads south of Macquarie Island

'Fedor Konyukhov and his 28m yacht -Trading Network Alye Parusa going head into ice territory south of Macquarie Island'       Click Here to view large photo

Bob Williams, CEO of the Antarctica Cup Management reports from Albany that Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov has chosen to head south of Macquarie Island (54°30S, 158°57E) en-route to crossing Gate 7 (90°W) within the Antarctica Cup Racetrack.

The chase south for more favourable winds is a function of Fedor's commitment to meet elapsed time expectations, which will test his powers of endurance as temperatures fall, and daytime visibility lessens. Ice in the form of 'bergs', 'bergy bits', and 'growlers' that are hard to detect by fully crewed racing yachts are a major hazard for the solo sailor, who cannot maintain a 24 hour lookout.

The 56 year old Russian is now 2,560 nautical miles into his record setting endeavour with approximately 4,680 nautical miles to GATE 8 at Cape Horn, the half way point in this 14,000 mile solo circumnavigation of Antarctica.

Fedor messaged his shore team overnight: 'Greetings from 55 South! All is well on board the good ship *Trading Network Alye Parusa*. I am now East of Macquarie Island and aiming for the waypoint 56°South and 160° East.

I have faced rain, sleet and drizzle again all day. The visibility is very poor - no more than 300 meters. I am on the limit of the sub zero temperature zone, so it is impossible to even touch the winch handle with bare hands. All the ropes are wet and frosty. Early today I had ice on deck. Before I go on up, I dress up like a gladiator with full set of offshore foul weather clothes, boots, big gloves, hat and harness. All the warm clothing from the bag is now on me! I am even using the dry-suit from my survival grab bag when working on the bow. Each day I check the pins and locking nuts holding the staysail and jib on the bow. I clip on to the jackstay and walk to the bow. This morning, a huge wave lifted the stern high up and I looked at the empty cockpit 20 meters behind with no one there. Some unpleasant thoughts came into my mind and I rushed back.

There is a chance to see icebergs or smaller bergs but I need better weather with several miles of visibility. All I can do is shut the doors within the watertight bulkheads and have the pumps ready to run in every watertight compartment. It is like sailing in a submarine -- all is locked and sealed; the radar is on, but with 5-7 meter waves running, it is hard to spot anything -- let alone a berg.

Last night there was a clear sky for several hours and I saw the Aurora Australis (or southern polar lights).

Today I had good winds of 35-40 knots. I had 2 reefs on the main and the staysail set, which was nice and comfortable. I even had a chance to read a book and made some sketches in my album. Now (12:00 UTC) the wind has dropped below 20 knots and shifted to the west (270). The massive swells are still pushing and rolling the boat about. When we slide down the wave we have even less wind at the bottom. I wish we had stronger winds for longer. In fact 30 knots downwind are excellent conditions. Forecast shows wind from 20 to 40 knots within 48 hours. '

Position: 55°21.42'S 160°34.44'E

Course: 90°T

Speed: 8.5knots

Distance sailed: 2,567.2m

by Robert Williams


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4:43 AM Tue 12 Feb 2008 GMT

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