Sailing into the land of ice

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JAN. 28 — After initial setbacks, Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov is ready to take on Antarctica.

Konyukhov and his 85-foot Open maxi monohull yacht Trading Network Alye Parusa were scheduled to cross the starting line between Wooding Point and Gull Rock in King George Sound near Albany, Western Australia, at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26, according to a press release. At 56, his goal is to sail solo 14,600 miles around Antarctica non-stop as a prelude to the Antarctica Cup Race (www.antarcticacup.com) in 2008-‘09, as well as providing a benchmark for others to beat.

In order to prepare for the challenge, Konyukhov took his yacht halfway around the world from Falmouth, England, last year and departed for Australia on Nov. 24, 2007. However when his main hydraulic autopilot failed, caught in a full gale in the South Atlantic, he was forced to make a pit stop in Cape Town, South Africa, according to his Web site (www.konyukhov.ru/eng). After making repairs, Konyukhov reached Albany, Western Australia, on Jan. 12, 2008.

“Albany is a wonderful place,” Konyukhov said in the press release. “We have had so much help and hospitality here. This will be a major yachting destination, there is no doubt about that.”

This voyage is only one in an impressive lineup of accomplishments for Konyukhov, including the completion of four global circumnavigations and 14 trans-Atlantic voyages.

— Elizabeth Ellis