Another epic voyage planned for the 33ft sloop

Alex Whitworth, the yachtsman who completed a circumnavigation of the world via Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope in 2004/05 is about to embark on another adventure.

Whitworth was the skipper of the 33ft Berrimilla and with co-skipper Peter Crozier took part in the Sydney-Hobart 2004 Race, then sailed to Cowes, UK, for the Fastnet 2005 before returning down under to take part in the Sydney-Hobart 2005 event.

The crew made history when they linked up with the crew of the orbitting International Space Station. ‘A number of interesting physical, psychological and planning similarities were apparent,’ said Alex.

As a result, Alex and Peter were invited by Leroy Chiao, who was the Commander of the ISS during their contacts, to give a presentation about Berrimilla’s voyage to a Symposium on Risk at Louisiana State University, using the voyage as a simple analogue for a journey into deep space.

After the symposium, in a bar on the edge of LSU Campus, Pascal Lee drew a map in Alex’s notebook and signed it.

This became an invitation to undertake another, rather more symbolic voyage through the North West Passage to link up with NASA’s Haughton-Mars Project on Devon Island, which Pascal runs, in time to observe the total solar eclipse on August 1st, 2008.

‘Planning is now at the stage when we know that the voyage is ‘Go’ unless something breaks in the meantime,; said Alex. ‘Peter Crozier is unable to sail this time, for family reasons. His place has been taken by Corrie McQueen, also a circumnavigator and who has sailed from the UK to the Arctic where she assisted with running charters around Spitzbergen.’

The plan is for Berrimilla to depart Sydney, Australia, on April 12, 2008.

Alex is very aware that he will have to cross thousands of miles of ocean before facing the challenges of the Arctic ice.

‘This is a work in progress,’ said Alex. ‘It would be great of we can get all the way but we’ll just take one day at a time.’

See the June issue of Yachting Monthly, on sale 8 May, for more details or follow the adventures on Berrimilla’s website