BEIJING, September 16. /TASS/. The Qingdao China trimaran yacht carrying an international crew under Chinese skipper Guo Chuang has successfully completed a dramatic 13-day Arctic Ocean voyage to cross an imaginary finishing line in the Bering Strait.
Chinese media say the yacht, with Chinese, Russian, French and German sailors aboard since leaving Murmansk port on September 3, has sailed a first-ever Northeast Passage route non-stop using only wind power.
The Chinese skipper was so excited he could not hold back his emotions. "I’m on the top of the world. It’s such an unbelievable moment," online media quoted him as saying. "Even two months ago, I wouldn’t have imagined I could have a moment like this. It is a moment that could only happen in a dream."
Northeast Passage begins at the Kara Strait (also called Kara Gates) and extends to Providence Bay in the east. The route is 5,600 kilometres long - a Swedish maritime expedition under Otto Nordenskjold first explored it in 1878-1879.
Qingdao China survived a nine-point storm. "The boat was bumping like a roller-coaster sometimes and seemed totally out of control," Guo recalled.
According to a TASS correspondent in Murmansk, the yacht’s mainmast sail failed near Wrangel Island in the Chukchi Sea. The crew managed to repair it. But a short while later, the yacht hit a block of ice near the Novosibirsk Islands - an impact sending Guo into the icy water. Russian crew-member Sergey Nizovtsev helped Guo back on board and a damaged rudder was repaired in just two hours.
"For several times, when we were in a difficult situation, I wondered if we could continue. But thanks to our determination and brave and excellent crew, we overcame the difficult times together and finally made it," a report quoted Guo as saying.
The trimaran is now heading to Qingdao, its port of registration. Project sponsors are the Russian Geographic Society, the Association of Russian Polar Explorers, the Russian embassy in China and Chinese organisations and businesses.