The storm on the Cosmonauts Sea
18 March 2018
The Final Stretch (See video: The Antarctic Circle)
26 March 2018

Closing the loop

20 March 2018, Katharsis II, position: 061º57’52″S, 065º04’15″E
Commonwealth Sea: 87 days and 12,700 nautical miles from the expedition’s port of departure

On 20 March 2018 at 1:44 p.m. 48 seconds UTC (02:44:48 Polish time), the Katharsis II, with its skipper, Mariusz Koper, and crew of eight, completed its circumnavigation of Antarctica, closing the loop at 62 degrees 28 minutes South, 64 degrees 53.66 minutes East. It took the Polish sailors 72 days, 5 hours, 33 minutes and 44 seconds to travel completely around the continent on a non-stop journey continuously south of the 62nd parallel. This is first such successful attempt in the history of sailing.

To skipper Mariusz Koper, the expedition’s primary purpose was to circumnavigate Antarctica in the continent’s coastal waters, i.e. south of the 60th parallel. Between leaving Cape Town on 23 December 2017 and re-crossing its wake of January 2018, the Katharsis II travelled 12,700 nautical miles, including 10,400 miles non-stop in Antarctic waters.

During today’s satellite call, skipper Mariusz Koper said:

‘Our expedition’s primary purpose was to circumnavigate Antarctica on a non-stop journey by sailing entirely in the continent’s waters, i.e. south of the 60th parallel. While a number of attempts had previously been made and a number of expeditions organised, nobody had ever managed to close the Antarctic loop in a single journey so far south. It seems that we completely circumnavigated Antarctica not only according to our original plan, that is, south of the 60th parallel, but even south of the 62nd. While we did cross the 62nd parallel to the north in a storm on the Davis Sea, the only time throughout our circumnavigation attempt, we retraced our steps, returning south of the 62nd parallel. So, we actually did complete a full Antarctic loop south of the 62nd parallel. We are all tired but happy. Yet this is by no means the end of our expedition. We have to descend from our summit. We have another 3,000 miles at sea before reaching Hobart. There is time yet to celebrate our success. We are still in Antarctic waters, nobody to count on but ourselves, thousands of nautical miles from the nearest harbour. For the coming week, we will still have to be on the lookout for icebergs, we still have to slow down at night. We are sailing under a new moon: on cloudy nights, all we can see ahead of us is what we are shown by thermal imaging cameras and radar. When it starts raining, visibility is practically nil. We have to stay focused to reach Hobart, Tasmania, safely. But we did what we came here for. Thank you for all your kind words and wishes.’

– Mariusz Koper and the entire crew of the Katharsis II


– This is how people reacted to news of the Katharsis II circumnavigating Antarctica:

Waldemar Heflich, sailing commentator for international TV broadcasters, editor-in-chief of ŻAGLE magazine:

‘Wonderful news. The Antarctic loop on a voyage south of the 60th parallel is one of the greatest accomplishments in contemporary international oceanic yachting. Kudos to skipper Koper and the crew of the Katharsis II. Bravo, Polish sailors…’

Yachtmaster Jarosław Kaczorowski, well-known sailor and a participant in many international regattas, round-the-world races, and a sailing umpire:

Congratulations to skipper Mariusz Koper and the crew of the Katharsis II for their courage to sail the most inhospitable waters in the world, and also for preparing the voyage so well. Successful Antarctic circumnavigation entirely in the deep southern waters is unprecedented in the history of international sailing, the boldness of the goal echoing such pioneers as Cook and Bellingshausen.’

About the expedition:


Non-stop around Antarctica along and south of the 60th parallel

The purpose of the Katharsis II’s journey, with its skipper, Mariusz Koper, and a crew of eight (Tomasz Grala, Hanna Leniec, Michał Barasiński, Magdalena Żuchelkowska, Wojciech Małecki, Ireneusz Kamiński, Piotr Kukliński, Robert Kibart), was to attempt to set a sailing world record, on a route from Cape Town, South Africa, to Hobart, Australia, during a non-stop voyage and possibly close to the Antarctic continent, along and south of the 60th parallel. This goal was accomplished, with the circumnavigation of Antarctica completed on 20 March 2018. The entire route completed was south of the 62nd parallel.

This expedition is dedicated to promoting breast cancer prevention. Masterminded by yachtmaster Hanna Leniec, this social initiative, called „Get Yourself Checked – don’t Check Out!” (GYC-DCO), aimed at female sailors and, in general, young females (and their families), kicked off in December 2016 in co-operation with the Maria Skłodowska Curie Memorial Cancer Centre and Institute of Oncology in Warsaw.

The expedition is also a scientific challenge. While circumnavigating Antarctica, the crew collected a number of water samples for a programme developed by the Sopot-based Institute of Oceanology of the Polish Academy of Sciences. All of the research, co-ordinated by crewmember and Polish Academy of Sciences professor Piotr Kukliński, explores the subject of microplastics spreading in oceanic waters. During its voyage, the Katharsis II is also taking part in the ARGO international research programme.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *