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Konyukhov becomes world’s first to cross 55th parallel south in rowboat

Russian voyager and survivalist is now on a solo round-the-world rowboat voyage

MOSCOW, May 5. /TASS/. Russian voyager and survivalist Fyodor Konyukhov, who is now on a solo round-the-world rowboat voyage, has set a world record, being the first to cross the 55th parallel south in the Southern, or Antarctic, Ocean, Konyukhov’s eldest son Oskar, the organizer of the journey, told TASS on Sunday citing his father’s diary.

"Today, I crossed the 55th parallel south. It is safe to say that not a single rowboat has ever crossed the 55th parallel in the Southern Ocean. There was an attempt to reach Australia from the Falkland Islands. But these islands are located at the 52nd parallel south," Fyodor Konyukhov writes in the diary.

The adventurer also writes about the foul weather conditions and a forecasted storm. "The week is going to be stormy… It will be hardly ever possible to hide behind the islands. With waves in the Southern Ocean developing a velocity of 50 kilometers per hour and winds of 40 knots, I will not be able to round the islands - the ocean will cast the boat ashore to smash it against the rocks in a couple of hours. I will be able to survive only on the open water. So, I need to stay at sea at all accounts," the diary says.

According to Oskar Konyukhov, the final 200 miles of the expedition are going to be the hardest ones. "Fyodor Konyukhov has crossed the Southern Ocean and is on the last stretch to Cape Horn. The final 200 miles (321 kilometers - TASS) are going to be the most difficult," he said.

Expedition’s route

Fyodor Konyukhov, 67, began his solo circumnavigation on board his AKROS rowboat on December 6, departing from New Zealand’s port of Dunedin. The circumnavigator’s route is divided into three stages: Dunedin (New Zealand) - Cape Horn (Chile), Cape Horn (Chile) - Cape Leeuwin (Austalia), and Cape Leeuwin (Austalia) - Dunedin. Konyukhov will have to row 27,000 kilometers in total.

British boat designer Phil Morrison created Konyukhov’s AKROS vessel exclusively for this expedition. The nine-meter rowboat has watertight compartments capable of storing up food and three independent power generation systems, including a solar and wind turbine along with an innovative EFOY fuel cell power plant. The vessel is also equipped with two satellite phones, a satellite tracker and several communication and navigation systems.

In an unexpected turn of events, an early April storm in the Southern Ocean overturned the voyager’s rowboat, damaging it. The waves tore off solar panels from the left side along with the wind indicator.

Konyukhov has completed five globetrotting missions, crossing the Atlantic 17 times and becoming the first Russian who climbed seven highest summits in six parts of the world, and also traveled to the North and South Poles. In 2007, Konyukhov circled the Southern Hemisphere in a sailboat dubbed the ‘Scarlet Sails’ through the waters of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans. The 102-day voyage did not involve any port calls.