New round-the-world sailing speed record set

A 130-foot trimaran yacht, with a crew of 14, set a new speed record for sailing around the globe last Friday when it returned to port in Brest, France. The ship, which is named the Maxi Banque Populaire V, shaved nearly three days off the previous record, and earned the crew the coveted Jules Verne Trophy in the process.

The ship, which featured a mostly French crew, set sail on November 22nd of last year and managed to circumnavigate the globe in just 45 days, 13 hours, 42 minutes, and 53 seconds. That beats the previous record, set in 2010, by more than 2 days, 18 hours. While out on the water, the speedy yacht logged more than 29,000 miles and had an average speed of 26.5 knots.

By setting the new round-the-world mark, the ship and her crew now hold the Jules Verne Trophy. Named for the famous author, whose seminal work of travel-fiction Around the World in 80 Days has inspired many adventures, the cup is awarded to the yacht that holds the record for the fastest circumnavigation of the planet. It was first given out back in 1993, when the record set at the time was 79 days, 6 hours. Less than 20 years later, we’ve now managed to cut that time almost in half. It seems only a matter of time before someone manages to sail around the globe in less than 40 days.

Woman sets new speed record on Appalachian Trail

Long distance hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis completed an end-to-end hike of the Appalachian Trail on Sunday, setting a new speed record in the process. The 28-year old endured long days on the trail, plenty of insects, record heat, and nagging injuries along the way to the finish.

Pharr Davis began her trek at the AT’s northern trail head, located on Mount Katahdin in Maine. Hiking for 15+ hours a day, she managed to cover the entire 2200-mile length of the AT in just 46 days, 11 hours, and 20 minutes, reaching the end on Springer Mountain in Georgia this past Sunday. That’s a full day faster than previous record holder Andrew Thompson’s time (47:13:31) and more than ten days faster than Jennifer’s previous record for a female hiker, which stood at 57 days, 8 hours, and 13 minutes.

Between Maine and Georgia, the trail passes through 14 states and offers hundreds of access points along the way. On an annual basis, the AT sees 2-3 million hikers, although most are content to walk just a small section of the full route. There are a few however who take it upon themselves to thru-hike the entire length, with most taking months to complete the journey.

To put into perspective Jennifer’s accomplishment; she managed to walk more than 47 miles per day for 46 days. That’s a very impressive stat considering the terrain that she had to cross through often involved rugged climbs and descents and was usually through dense forests as well. The daily grind of walking that many miles is enough to take its toll on anyone and is a true test of stamina and determination.

[Photo courtesy Mike Dirks/Times-News]

Skier sets South Pole speed record

Norwegian explorer Christian Eide has set a new speed record for traveling to the South Pole on skis, smashing the previous record by more than two weeks and setting a new standard for Antarctic expeditions to follow.

Eide set out from Hercules Inlet, located along the Antarctic coast, on December 20th of last year and proceeded due south towards the Pole, a journey of more than 700 miles. Averaging 29 miles per day over some of the harshest and most extreme terrain on the planet, the skier completed the trip in just 24 days, 1 hour, and 13 minutes, battling whiteout conditions and subzero temperatures along the way.

The previous speed record was held by American Todd Carmichael, who made the same journey back in 2008. Carmichael completed his expedition in 39 days, 7 hours, and 49 minutes, which at the time seemed like a very impressive accomplishment. Eide’s new speed mark raises the bar substantially, and is likely to be a record that will remain unbroken for years to come.

To further put Eide’s accomplishment into perspective, when explorer Roald Amundsen, who was also Norwegian, became the first person to reach the South Pole back in 1911 it took him 58 days to make the journey. He also had the benefit of doing so by dogsled. Now, a century later, we have modern day explorers covering the same distance in less than half the time and under their own power no less.

We’ve come a long way in a hundred years.

[Photo credit: Christian Eide]

British team sets new speed record for Antarctic crossing

In late November, a group of British adventurers and scientists set off on a mission to the interior of the Antarctic continent in specially designed research vehicles. Their plan was to undertake several environmental research experiments while journeying through one of the most in hospitable environments on the planet, but they also managed to set a new speed record for an Antarctic crossing at the same time.

Dubbed the Moon-Regan Transantarctic Expedition in favor of its two organizers, Andrew Moon and Andrew Regan, the plan was for the team to conduct research along the way. For example, they collected samples of the Antarctic snow in order to test the impact of pollutants in the atmosphere of the Southern Hemisphere on the frozen continent itself. They also drove a specially designed snow buggy, powered by biofuels, in order to see how those experimental fuels performed in extreme conditions.

By all accounts, those research elements came off very well, but the real success of the mission was the speed crossing. It took the team just 13 days to drive from the Union Glacier Base to the Ross Ice Shelf, by way of the South Pole, on the far side of the continent. The expedition covered 1209 miles in 303 hours, using specially designed ground penetrating radar to help them avoid crevasses and other obstacles.

The expediton actually reached their destination back on December 9th, but then turned around and made the return trip so that the 10-man team, along with all their research vehicles and gear, could be plucked from the ice by Antarctic-Logistics and Expeditions, a company that specializes in delivering explorers to Antarctica. That happened last week, when the team was returned to Punta Arenas, Chile before making their way back home in time for the holidays.

Taking just 13 days to cross Antarctica is quite an impressive feat. While the team did indeed use motorized vehicles to do it, the terrain that they crossed is quite brutal on any kind of machine and the cold weather played havoc with their engines at times. Throw in the very real danger of driving into a crevasse, and you can start to appreciate the challenges of such a drive. This just might have been the most challenging road trip ever.

[Photo credit: Moon-Regan Transantarctic Expedition]

Brits complete London to Cape Town drive in record time.

Awhile back we posted a story about three adventurous Brits who had set out to drive from London to Cape Town in the hopes of setting a new speed record for that route. Their road would take them across three continents and 20 countries, covering more than 10,000 miles in the process. Late last week they completed their mission, arriving at the finish line nearly two days ahead of the previous record.

Mac Mackenney, Chris Rawlings and Steve Mackenney drove their Land Rover Discovery into Cape Town last Thursday, arriving 11 days, 14 hours, and 11 minutes after they had set out. That time beat the old mark, which was set by Eric Jackson and Ken Chambers back in 1963, by 1 day, 18 hours, and 37 minutes. Perhaps even more impressive is that the trio had to average approximately 870 miles per day, in a wide variety of conditions, to arrive when they did.

The three men took turns driving, navigating, and resting, staying on the go nearly all the time. They did blog about their journey on the Max Adventure website, where they told tales of harrowing border crossings, interesting encounters with locals along the way, and the blur of countries they passed through as they sped toward the finish line.

While Mac, Chris, and Steve were certainly hoping to break the speed record, they were also hoping to raise some money and awareness for the Help The Heroes organization, a charitable foundation that helps wounded British soldiers to recover and get on with their lives. The team hoped to raise £10,000 through their adventure to donate to this very worthy cause. As of this writing they’ve raised about a third of that.

Personally, I applaud the boys for setting the new record, but this certainly isn’t the way that I would like to make that same journey. Give me that same Land Rover and I’ll take six months to explore the route. Seems like the ultimate road trip to me!

[Photo credit: Max Adventure]