Frozen out – the rower on a solo polar mission

After years of meticulous preparation, Oliver Hicks is ready to launch an attempt to row solo around the world. First, though, the young Englishman must surmount a last-minute obstacle: the bossy paternalism of authorities in Australasia, where he intends to start his expedition.

Mr Hicks, from Suffolk, had planned to set off from New Zealand on his audacious voyage, which will take him across the Pacific Ocean and down into the icy waters of Antarctica. But maritime officials refused to allow him to leave, saying his trip was too perilous, for himself and for those likely to be called on to rescue him.

Following a swift change of itinerary, the 27-year-old decamped to southern Tasmania, where authorities were equally lukewarm. The maritime safety body, Marine and Safety Tasmania, urged him to reconsider his "inherently dangerous" plan yesterday. However, unlike their New Zealand counterparts, who could have detained him, Australian officials cannot prevent him from leaving.

Mr Hicks was lying low yesterday, putting the final touches to his hi-tech boat, the Flying Carrot, in which he hopes to become the first rower to circle the globe. But interference from officialdom – fuelled in part by rescue missions that had to be launched during the Vendée Globe round-the-world yacht race – is unlikely to deter him from setting off before the end of this month.

At the age of 17, he cycled 1,000 miles from Land's End to John O'Groats. At 21, he ran six marathons (150 miles) back to back across the Sahara desert. Four years ago, he became the first person to row solo eastbound across the North Atlantic: a 124-day trip in a second-hand boat.

But none of that compares with what lies ahead now: up to 22 months alone at sea, a diet of dehydrated food, multi-vitamins and the occasional fish, and a 15,000-mile route that takes in the iceberg-strewn Southern Ocean and the "Furious Fifties" – the winds that rage between 50 and 60 degrees south.

The 24ft Flying Carrot is, of course, no ordinary boat. The fibreglass vessel has a self-righting hull, solar panels and a wind generator to power Mr Hicks's communications equipment. It is steered by a computer-controlled autopilot and is equipped with 10 pairs of oars, a sail (for emergencies only), a laptop and two satellite phones. The bow cabin will have an emergency grab-bag containing survival equipment.

Even with all the technological assistance, it will be a gruelling trip. The English adventurer plans to paddle for nine hours a day, covering 30 miles daily for 500 days, braving biting winds and mountainous swells. He will take a break mid-year, pausing for a few months on South Georgia, in the southern Atlantic, to restock his supplies and avoid the worst of the southern hemisphere winter.

That assumes that all goes well, of course, a view not shared by the official body, Maritime New Zealand. Its strategy and communications manager, Lindsay Sturt, told The Sydney Morning Herald: "The risks inherent in Mr Hicks's proposed voyage are substantial and the likelihood of rescue being required is significant."

Mr Hicks – the youngest person to row across an ocean – arrived in Tasmania just before Christmas and put his boat in the water last week, after two weeks in quarantine in Hobart.

According to Hobart's The Mercury, the Flying Carrot will be towed to its launch site at Recherche Bay, near Tasmania's southern tip, by a support vessel, Blizzard, which will escort it out to sea. Then Mr Hicks will be on his own, as he crosses the Pacific to Cape Horn, traverses the hazardous Drake Passage, then heads down into the Southern Ocean.

In his blog, he explained why the voyage appealed to him. It was, he wrote, "extraordinarily difficult; long duration – like the old-fashioned explorers; solo – to raise the bar as high as possible; a first – never been done before; an ocean adventure; exciting, exhilarating, frightening and, at times, mind-numbing".

Wandering spirits: Adventurers in trouble

*Adelir Antonio de Carli

In an attempt to set a record for the longest time spent flying with balloons, the 41-year-old Brazilian priest attached 1,000 helium-filled party balloons to his chair and set off from Paranagua, Brazil, in April 2008. Fr de Carli was trying to fly the 465 miles to Dourados, hoping to raise funds to build a chapel for truckers in his parish. He disappeared after bad weather blew him off course and his body was found three months later off south-eastern Brazil.

*Steve Fossett

An adventurer who made a number of daredevil record attempts, Fossett met his end while preparing to break the land-speed record. He disappeared in September 2007 while flying his single-engine plane, looking – it is believed – for a site to stage the attempt. In 2002 Fossett, 63, a friend of Sir Richard Branson, became the first person to fly solo around the world in a balloon. His remains were found last year near where his plane crashed in California.

*Jean Le Cam

Covering a distance of 26,000 miles and having claimed the lives of three participants, the Vendée Globe is considered the world's most gruelling yacht race and has earned the nickname "the Everest of the Seas". Out of the 30 racers who started this year's event, 18 have dropped out. One of these is Le Cam, who last week became trapped in the hull of his boat in extreme weather. He was stuck there for 16 hours before Vincent Riou, another participant, rescued him.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Solutions Architect - Financial Services, SQL, Stored Procedure

£55000 - £65000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: One of the mos...

Senior UNIX Engineer (UNIX, Linux, Solaris, IBM MQ Server)

£62000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior UNIX Engineer (UNIX, Linux, Solaris...

JavaScript Developer (Angular, Web Forms, HTML5, Ext JS,CSS3)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: JavaScript Dev...


£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice