BRITISH YACHTSMAN COMPLETES FIRST EVER ‘VERTICAL’ CIRCUMNAVIGATION OF THE GLOBE

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Adrian with crystal polar bear presented to him in Murmansk

Intrepid sailor, Adrian Flanagan will sail in to Southampton Water tomorrow, the first person to complete a singlehanded ‘vertical’ circumnavigation of the globe, westwards around Cape Horn and across the Russian Arctic Coast. Adrian’s challenge to set the record for sailing round the world ‘over the top’ has tested the limits of his endurance. He is the only yachtsman to have ever sailed Russia’s Arctic Coast along the Northern Sea Route single-handed. Amongst many adventures, Adrian has been washed overboard, dislocated both wrists, suffered two knock-downs at Cape Horn and been tracked by pirates off Brazil, but tomorrow he will sail up the River Hamble to a tremendous welcome from family and friends.

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ADRIAN FLANAGAN ARRIVAL TIME – WEDNESDAY 21st MAY 2008 – ROYAL SOUTHERN YACHT CLUB

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Royal Southern Yacht Club moorings and club house

From the water – At 10.00am Adrian will be arriving in Southampton Water on his yacht Barrabas. At 11.00am Adrian and Barrabas will moor at the visitor’s pontoon of The Royal Southern Yacht Club at Hamble. Any change to this schedule will be posted on the front page of The Alpha Global Expedition website www.alphaglobalex.com. Directions to the Royal Southern are on their web site www.royal-southern.co.uk

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Meet and Greet Arctic style, Walrus float past Barrabas near the remote island of Ostrov Peschanyy

British yachtsman, Adrian Flanagan, 47 from Buckinghamshire will arrive at the Royal Southern Yacht Club, Southampton on Wednesday morning to complete the first single-handed ‘vertical’ circumnavigation. Flanagan will have sailed more than 30,000 miles on his 40-foot Stainless Steel yacht Barrabas in pursuit of a boyhood dream inspired after he read Sir Francis Chichester’s ‘Gipsy Moth Circles the World’. Flanagan set sail in October 2005. Sir Robin Knox-Johnston who became the first man to sail around the world alone without stopping described Flanagan’s voyage as, ‘seriously difficult’.

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Barrabas approaches Diamond Head Buoy off Oahu

Flanagan was forced to break his voyage twice. He said, ‘My route westwards around Cape Horn and along the Russian Arctic coast had never been done before. The delays reflect the degree of difficulty, not only physical but political.’ Only six yachts have been given permission by the Russian authorities to travel the Northern Sea Route. Two of those were Russian. All were crewed and carried a mandatory Russian ice-pilot onboard. Flanagan wanted to go it alone – single-handed and without an ice pilot. Bureaucratic delay forced Flanagan to lay up his yacht in Nome, Alaska during the winter of 2006-7. He eventually won permission to go into the militarily sensitive areas of northern Russia’s Arctic waters in July 2007. Barrabas became the first British flagged yacht to go there. Flanagan commented, ‘True adventure requires a unique aspect, something pioneering, something that’s never been done. To have become the first solo yachtsman to enter the Russian Arctic is irreducible. It is the crowning achievement of the voyage, not just for me but for everyone involved.’

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Roman Abramovich, Governor of Chukotka Province, Russian Federation

Flanagan’s Alpha Global Expedition is managed by his ex-wife, Louise. She won the support of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich who is governor of Chukotka province in Siberia. Fewer single-handed sailors have gone around the notorious Cape Horn against wind and current than astronauts who have walked on the moon. His yacht sustained damage during a hurricane which forced him to call into Honolulu to make repairs before heading north to the Bering Strait. Flanagan sailed 2,000 miles of the Northern Sea Route before impenetrable ice blocked his path. A Russian icebreaker convoy transported the yacht through the ice to Murmansk. Flanagan wintered the yacht in Mehamn, northern Norway before the third and final leg of his voyage. He departed Mehamn on 1st May.

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Barrabas and HMS Mersey off the English coast

Last week the Royal Navy paid tribute by dispatching HMS Mersey to rendezvous with Flanagan at sea. Lieutenant Commander Alan Wilson described Flanagan’s voyage as ‘momentous’. Along the way Flanagan has been swept from the deck by a rogue wave without his lifeline attached, dislocated both his wrists and been shadowed by pirates off the coast of Brazil. As he sails the final miles of his global marathon Flanagan commented, ‘To live but not to dream is pointless, but to dream and not to live it is worse.’ Flanagan has two sons, Benjamin 9 and Gabriel 6. ‘Over the Top’, the book of Adrian’s epic voyage is published by Wiedenfeld & Nicolson on 9th October. Online pre-ordering at tinyurl.com/453l4j

Louise Flanagan

Expedition Manager

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