Solo round-the-world rowing bid to start

A SUFFOLK adventurer is about to embark on a bid to become the first person to row solo around the world.After a number of delays Oliver Hicks, from Thorpeness, has been given clearance to set off on the record attempt and will take to the water in the next few days.

Russell Claydon

A SUFFOLK adventurer is about to embark on a bid to become the first person to row solo around the world.

After a number of delays Oliver Hicks, from Thorpeness, has been given clearance to set off on the record attempt and will take to the water in the next few days.

The marathon Virgin Global Row expedition will take him along the line of 50 degrees south latitude through some of the most treacherous seas on the planet.


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Mr Hicks, 27, is currently finishing off the final preparations for the 15,000 mile voyage from his starting point in southern Tasmania, Australia after his vessel was held up in customs.

Named the Flying Carrot, the long boat was specially made from carbon fibre in Devon and fitted out in Suffolk.

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His route will take him from Australia across the Pacific, through the dangerous Drake Passage past Cape Horn, then down into the Southern Ocean.

The round the world challenge is expected to take between 18-22 months to complete and is sure to test his endurance skills to the limit.

As well as taking on the huge seas Mr Hicks will also have to watch out for icebergs, large whales, sharks and predatory leopard seals on his journey.

The idea for the record attempt was forged during a four-month solo row from America to Britain in 2005. It made Mr Hicks the first person to row solo across the Atlantic and the youngest to row any ocean alone.

Sponsored by Richard Branson's Virgin on the �200,000 expedition, he will be carrying a mixture of dehydrated food and multivitamins to see him through the journey, as well as 50 litres of drinking water.

A support yacht, Blizzard, will escort the Flying Carrot out of Tasmania before leaving Mr Hicks to undertake the enormous task alone.

His progress will be monitored from an office in London and a video diary will be posted up on the internet.

Mr Hicks said on his online blog that he is relieved he is now in a position to get the challenge underway, after a long wait. The process was delayed because of stormy weather that prevented a cargo ship carrying it from sailing and also while customs and quarantine officials inspected the vessel and made sure it met import regulations.

In his latest entry, posted on December 31, the oarsman wrote: “Finally yesterday and exactly two weeks overdue the Flying Carrot was freed from the authorities' warehouse on the docks - where she had unceremoniously been stacked atop several crates of zinc ingots!

“However, once quarantine were satisfied by pressure-washing a small amount of mud from the boat's cradle, she was lifted onto the back of a long flatbed lorry along with our three wooden crates of food and set off to the South of Tasmania. There she met a crane, was lifted off and now sits on the dock awaiting a last coat of antifoul (toxic paint applied to bottom of hull to prevent marine growth) before going in the water in a few days.

“After speaking with a few of the local folk we were somewhat alarmed to hear of the local New Year's Eve tradition of paint bombing!!! So we left the Carrot in her protective wrapping and set an armed sentry to guard her overnight...We were pleased to see she has arrived into 2009 unscathed and unpainted!”

Mr Hicks' progress can be monitored at www.virginglobalrow.com.

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