Pirates and waves sink epic PWC voyage


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London to Auckland PWC voyage ends with airlift rescue from Greek Air Force

Pirates and waves sink epic PWC voyage
Pirates and waves sink epic PWC voyage

An epic trans-global PWC voyage from London to Auckland has ended with a trio of adventurers being airlifted to safety by the Greek Air Force. In a bitter end to their courageous plans, Kiwis Jeremy Burfoot and Travis Donohoe, along with Croatian Ivan Otulic, had already called off their world record PWC distance attempt due to concerns over damage to their PWCs and the risk of piracy off the coast of Yemen — they were heading across the Aegean Sea for Croatia to return the three modified Sea-Doos when they began taking on water during a savage storm. On August 31, Burfoot, a 747 pilot and experienced PWC rider, made the decision to trigger his personal locator beacon, which led to the team’s rescue.

Billed as the "Ultimate Ride" the men had intended to ride their PWCs some 32,000km from London to Auckland — smashing the current PWC distance record of 18,400km and raising vital funds for cancer research along the way. In 2006 Burfoot, a cancer survivor himself, was the first man to circumnavigate New Zealand on a PWC.

However, this latest venture seemed beset with difficulties from the beginning, with an initial trial in England’s Thames Estuary resulting in the men being stranded on mud flats and requiring assistance from the British Coastguard.

They made their departure proper on August 1, making a nine-hour slog across the North Sea to Rotterdam, Holland, before navigating a multitude of rivers, canals and locks to the Black Sea. They then headed through the Dardanelles and into the Mediterranean.

However, the men decided to end their run after several instances of foul weather mercilessly punished both them and their craft. "Even though Sea-Doo is still the best PWC brand in the world, these PWCs are not designed to take the continuous punishment we have subjected them to with our hectic schedule," wrote Burfoot in his blog on August 29. "Also, due to a rise in tensions in Yemen the NZ Department of Foreign Affairs has strenuously warned us not to proceed south of Egypt unattended. The risk of terrorist and pirate attacks in Yemen has risen to an unacceptable level and we would be a prime target. We all have families and it would be unfair to put their futures at risk for an adventure, even with such a good cause," he continued.

It was on the trio’s return run across the Aegean Sea that they were struck by the storm that ultimately led to Burfoot triggering his rescue beacon, where they were then collected by a rescue team. "No PWC is designed for hours and hours of that sort of punishment," Burfoot said later. "The GME beacons were life savers," he added.

According to Burfoot’s blog, the men plan to continue their mission "to promote healthy living and early detection of cancer by other means".

Visit www.london-sydney.com
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