Tuesday 30 May 2017

Boat-sledge to face North Pole test

The team train for their Row To The Pole challenge outside the Natural History Museum
The team train for their Row To The Pole challenge outside the Natural History Museum

A boat-cum-sledge designed to navigate the icy waters of the Arctic has been unveiled.

British explorer Jock Wishart will skipper the frost-proof vessel on his forthcoming Row To The Pole challenge.

He and his six-man crew hope to make history when they set off on the 450-mile (724km) journey next summer.

The Old Pulteney was put to the test during its unveiling at the outdoor ice rink at the Natural History Museum in central London.

Dutch yacht designer Peter Bosgraaf teamed up with Devon-based Hugh Welbourne and sledge expert Roger Daynes to create the rowing boat, which has sledge runners fitted underneath the hull.

Built in Christchurch, Dorset, it is covered in special fibres to withstand extreme Arctic conditions while remaining light enough for the crew to pull. Its golden underside will help the men identify the vessel should it capsize.

The estimated four- to six-week row to the magnetic North Pole has never been undertaken before and is only possible now due to the increase in seasonal ice melt of the Arctic landscape.

Nevertheless, the team will face dramatic ice-bound coastlines and shifting sea-ice barriers.

Dumfries-born Wishart captained the team which broke the London-to-Paris rowing record in 1999 and in 1992 was part of the first group to walk unsupported to the geomagnetic North Pole.

He said: "I've been planning this for over three years, so it's great to finally see today a truly magnificent boat."

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