”The conditions look good, we do not expect any major encounters with ice”, Guo Chuan says to BarentsObserver.
His trimaran, the ”Qingdao China”, is docked in Jarfjord outside Kirkenes, Norway, as the last preparations for the Arctic voyage are handled. With support from local company Arctic Dive Resort, the expedition stays in Norwegian-Russian border area before it on Saturday heads towards Murmansk. Guo Chuan intends to make it non-stop through the Northern Sea Route quicker than any other before.
”We want to make it from Murmansk to the Bering Strait in 14 days”, the experienced Chinese sailor says. That trip will be conducted without stops and with only wind power. If successful, it will be a historic mission.
However, risks are many. The 30 meter long vessel is not made for icy waters. A trimaran with a 32 meter long mast and a total weight of only one tonne, it could be badly hurt by drifting ice.
Such a collision could turn critical for the ship and its crew. The waters of the Northern Sea Route are among the most remote in the world and emergency and preparedness facilities are, in the worst case, several thousands kilometers away.
The ”Qingdao China” is built in France and became world-famous when Captain Joyon took it around the globe in a record-setting solo non-stop circumnavigation voyage in 2008. Since then, the ship has been made better prepared for sailing in rough northern waters. The front parts of the hulls have been enforced and new technology has been installed.
Captain Guo Chuan is No.1 sailor in China. He became a star in the country after he completed his solo non-stop circumnavigation in a 40ft yacht and created a new world record.
The expedition comes as China expresses increasing interest in the Northern Sea Route.