World watches Coast for Fedor’s arrival Rowing into history
THE world's spotlight will shine on Mooloolaba next week with the arrival of Russia's greatest modern-day adventurer, Fedor Konyukhov, who will complete a five-month solo, unassisted, non-stop crossing of the Pacific by rowboat from Chile.
The ordained Russian Orthodox church priest's 25 key corporate sponsors fly in to Mooloolaba today to prepare his welcome.
A FILM production crew for Russia's Channel 4, which has 100 million viewers, arrives on Monday to complete a documentary of a journey that will be recognised among the most amazing endurance feats ever recorded.
Konyukhov, 63, left the Chilean port of Concon on December 22 after being forced to turn back from an earlier start on December 14 to repair faulty equipment.
He has a vast portfolio of successful expeditions, including sailing around the world from Sydney to Sydney in 1990 and three other circumnavigations of the globe.
Konyukhov has also climbed Mt Everest twice, walked to the North and South poles, held for 10 years the record for a solo unassisted row across the Atlantic taking 47 days and has climbed all 14 peaks of the Himalayas and the summits of the highest mountains in each of world's seven continents, including Antarctica.
While some adventurers have focused on a particular endeavour, Konyukhov has embraced every serious endurance challenge ever attempted and survived.
In his 9m carbon fibre vessel named Tourgoyak. which has sleeping quarters in the stern and storage in the bow, he's currently about 260 nautical miles off the Queensland coast on track to reach Mooloolaba next Thursday or Friday.
He has covered 9050 nautical miles, or 16,760km, in a journey that has taken him through the height of summer into late autumn.
His son, Oscar, who manages sponsorship and logistics for his father's adventures, has been in Mooloolaba for the past week preparing for the arrival.
He told the Daily yesterday that Konyukhov was starting to struggle as he neared the finish line.
"He has told me he is having to force himself to row every day," Oscar said. "He's losing energy because he's moving all the time and losing calories. He is averaging 50nm a day."
Oscar said his father was spending the maximum amount of time he could on the oars to take advantage of winds he said were his "ticket to Australia".
"He is getting very little sleep. The wind, the waves and the current are starting to work against him."
Konyukhov has lived on a diet of freeze-dried food reconstituted in water provided by the boat's desalination plant and heated over a gas burner.
In recent days he has managed to catch mahi-mahi to add fresh fish to the menu but was also being circled by sharks in increasingnumbers.
The Sunshine Coast came close to missing the millions of dollars in free publicity the region's tourism industry can now expect, with initial plans to land at the Gold Coast.
However, intervention by Buderim instrument technician Chris Wood, whose brother Mike owns Mike Wood Marine in the UK where Konyukhov's 9m long and 1.6m wide vessel was built, saw the shift to a Mooloolaba finish line.
Wood said yesterday that when he sent photos of Mooloolaba's bay and harbour to Konyukhov's support team ,they immediately changed tack.
"This is a far better entrance than the Southport Seaway," he said.
The Tourgoyak has five watertight bulkheads, two types of steering gear (stationary and emergency), and large compartments to store food and equipment.
Oscar said yesterday that as a boy he had not seen a lot of his father but now enjoyed providing the support that helped him in his adventures.
"Conditions until he reached halfway were fantastic," he said.
"The second half has been much tougher with the biggest risk cyclones. When you only can row 50km a day you can't escape. My father became a priest three years ago and that helps him a lot. Priests understand the worlddifferently."