Hobart, Tasmania, 5 April 2018
S/y Katharsis II under the command of skipper Mariusz Koper and its crew of eight have reached the finishing line in Hobart. On 5 April – in the early morning Polish time, after 102 days at sea since the port of departure, Polish sailors arrived on the finishing line in Tasmania, welcomed by representatives of the local Polish Community, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Poland Edward Kremzer, WSSRC (World Sailing Speed Record Council) officials, and the management of the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania (RYCT), co-organisers of the prestigious Sydney Hobart Race (the finishing line of Katharsis II’s journey is identical as that of the Sydney Hobart Race).
The Local Judges Committee of the World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC) in Tasmania notified that the finishing line was crossed at 05:55:25 universal time (UTC), 15:55:25 local time (AEST, Australian Eastern Standard Time), or 07:55:25 Polish time. The time of circumnavigating the Antarctic continent during the Cape Town to Hobart journey south of the 60th parallel was 102 days 23 hours and 1 minute. While the result is yet to be confirmed by the World Sailing Speed Record Council in England, we already know that the Polish crew completed their journey around Earth’s coldest continent as the first yacht in the world, sailing south of the 62nd parallel throughout the course of their non-stop voyage. From their port of departure in Cape Town on 23 December 2017, the sailors, under the command of skipper Mariusz Koper, covered a distance of 15,853 nautical miles.
Upon crossing the finishing line and reaching the hospitable marina of the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, skipper Mariusz Koper said:
“During our non-stop journey, we achieved our main objective: to circumnavigate Antarctica as pioneers in its waters, that is south of the 60th parallel. It took us 72 days 5 hours 33 minutes and 43 seconds to close the circle around Earth’s coldest continent. The circle’s circumference stretched along a distance of 10,180 nautical miles and was tighter than the one we had originally planned, as we managed to constantly sail south of the 62nd parallel. No sailor in history managed to circumnavigate Antarctica so close to the continent and at the same time so fast. Our expedition’s major challenge was to secure self-sufficiency in a part of the globe where one can only count on oneself if anything dramatic happens. Ice was the greatest threat, one we had to handle each day. Emotions rose particularly high when visibility dropped because of fog, blizzards or dark nights, the latter our constant companion since mid-February. When nights became dark, we had to slow well down, and use thermal imaging cameras. During a storm on the Amundsen Sea, we sailed at full speed right into a large area of dense ice debris trapped between several icebergs. Huge waves made manoeuvring impossible – we faced a danger of colliding with ice chunks the size of cars. Thanks to highly efficient crew work, we could get out of the tight spot and sail into the shadow of an enormous ice island, its steep cliffs offering harbour-like safety. Most of the seventeen storms we faced on the way carried some form of hazard; as a result, we suffered damage to our yacht three times – yet the crew’s experience allowed swift repair, and we managed to avoid much more severe consequences.”
When asked what comes next, skipper Koper said:
“I have sailed 115,000 nautical miles aboard Katharsis II over the last nine years. I cannot imagine taking a longer break from sailing – even after such a long, difficult and exhausting journey. Yet the planned renovation works on the yacht and private plans will force us to put sailing on hold until November. It would be difficult to describe plans and new ideas now – although there are plenty. At this point, I prefer to talk about past voyages.”
The skipper and crew of Katharsis II received many messages of applause and goodwill. The yacht received i.a. a message from the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda: “Captain, I would like to heartily congratulate you and the crew of s/y Katharsis II for having achieved the objective of your expedition: the successful circumnavigation of Antarctica. May you overcome any further difficulty, and arrive home safely.”, and a letter from the Speaker of the Sejm (Lower House of the Polish Parliament) Marek Kuchciński, who wrote i.a.: “We are thus very proud that this is an achievement of Polish sailors. I believe your expedition will become ample proof that dreaming and facing challenges is a worthwhile cause.”
After the yacht crossed the finishing line in Hobart, WSSR Head Official for Tasmania Barry Shepperd said: “This was a fantastic voyage, and an equally fantastic finish here in Tasmania. From the moment of leaving Cape Town, circumnavigating Antarctica, conquering so many challenges, and finally reaching the Derwent river and overcoming so many typical difficulties here, a very good job. I would also like to thank the team of the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania for preparing the project’s finale.” Honorary Consul of the Republic of Poland Edward Kremzer present at the finishing line addressed the Polish sailors, saying: “Poland is proud of you. Congratulations from the entire Polish Community in Australia.”
About the expedition:
KATHARSIS II POLISH ANTARCTIC SAILING EXPEDITION
Non-stop around Antarctica along and south of the 60th parallel
The purpose of 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 route completed was south of the 62nd parallel.
This expedition was 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.
Text by: JJC