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The Russian sailing yacht Peter I has wrapped up its one-season trip around the North Pole in what became the world’s first such voyage without an icebreaker.
It took the yacht just four months to accomplish its Arctic mission by sailing both the North East and North West Passage of Russia and Canada, respectively. In contrast, it took noted Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen more than six years to do the same. Aside from the Peter I, a Norwegian trimaran was also trying to break a world record in circumnavigating the North Pole in one season, but to no avail. At the end of the day, the Russian yacht proved to be better prepared to meet the ice than the Norwegian vessel, says Alexei Zhirov, of the All-Russian Federation of Sailing Sport.
Given the extreme conditions of the Arctic, the Russian crew constantly contacted specialists with the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute in Moscow, who briefed the crewmembers on the weather and ice situation in the region, Zhirov explains. Of course, emergency situations were not uncommon, only to be ultimately rectified by the crew, he concludes.
Setting sail from St.Petersburg in early June, the yacht then covered over 12,000 nautical miles, reaching the three northernmost points of the Eurasian continent – Cape Dezhnev, Cape Chelyuskin and the Gdansk Bay’s Baltic Point. The Peter I is yet to sail the Atlantic Ocean to return home, a tricky task given severe weather conditions in the area. The vessel is due back in St.Petersburg in late November, with many in the Russian northern capital already looking forward to the yacht’s triumphant return.