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Greenland ski wrap-up: New kite world record

Posted: Jun 18, 2010 12:23 am EDT

Canadian Eric McNair-Landry (25) and American/French Sebastian Copeland (46) made good use of favorable winds and kite skied 595km in 24 hours, which gives them the new kite distance world record.

In 2008, Norwegian Ronny Finsaas reported kiting a distance of 502,73 km between two camps in less than 24 hours on Antarctica. Last year in May two other Norwegians, Hugo Rolf Hansen and Bjørn Einar Bjartnes, kited 505.90 km between camps on Greenland.

Only at age 25 Eric is a veteran kite skier. He grew up kite-skiing with his mom and dad, the polar guides, Matty McNair and Paul Landry (and his younger sister, Sarah). His previous personal best was 412 km in 24 hours.

Another kite team who is currently on the Icecap says Greenland is meting under them. According to reports received by ExplorersWeb, the Greenland authorities have closed the horizontal route for the summer skiers because of too much meltwater at the coastal areas. A source told ExplorersWeb that the melt has started about 15 days earlier this year.

Narsaq Qaanaaq (kite):
Sebastian Copeland and Eric McNair-Landry

Sebastian described their record breaking day in detail in his dispatch.

By 9:30 PM, the last items were packed in the sledges, the kites were laid out on the ice, the winds were moderate but still up, and we hit the trail.

Sebastian had rigged the big Yakuzza on 75 meter lines, which was definitely big for the conditions, he said. We were traveling on a broad reach--with the wind about 45 degrees to our back--and the pull in that direction is more forgiving when over powered.

Eric started on his 12 meter Manta, but after half an hour, I encouraged him to switch as the difference in speed was too great. He went to the 14 meter. And the fun was on! Within the first hour and a half we had covered almost a hundred kilometers.

They decided to go for the record as long as the wind holds.

The wind grew through the first part of the night, he continued. By 4 AM, snow drift covered the ice in all directions, and as we chased the midnight sun, we were motoring! At times we hit speeds of sixty kilometers an hour. It was intense!

Luckily, the snow was quite soft, and the sastrugi virtually nonexistent. It was cold, though, and we could definitely feel that we were traveling north. We had passed the thousand kilometer mark from our point of departure, crossed the Arctic Circle, and were clearly headed into the cold. Frost was building over our face masks, and with the wind-chill, no skin can be exposed in these conditions. And we were flying!

In five hours, we had done over two hundred and fifty kilometers! We took two hour runs and fifteen minute breaks for the first eight hours, (except for one period when the visuals were so spectacular, backlit from the sun that I had to film!)

Eventually the pull of the big kites was too great and their legs were getting the workout of their life, wrote Sebastian. We downsized to 10 meters, and settled to very reasonable speeds. The snow got noticeably softer, almost sand like in the dry cold, which was remarkably kinder on the knees.

With the lower wind they were traveling from a speed up to sixty kilometers an hour at our peak and were dropping to below twenty. As well, fatigue set in, and he started to doubt, admitted Sebastian.

They had shifted their periods to ninety minutes of kiting between breaks and were back on the big kites. After fifteen hours they were at 470 kilometers. They switched to one hour period with a fifteen minute break.

By the next period we were over 500 kilometers, with eight hours to go! At this stage, it would have been devastating if the wind had died, as the record was within reach, said Sebastian.

Strangely, I kept thinking that at the term of this day would be a Russian masseuse and a bath house, only to realize that we would arrive at a point determined only by the clock and that once that 24 hour bell rang, this would be our place of rest for the night!

Because of the break periods, the final forty five minute section fell on 9:15, and we agreed that this would be our quitting time, fifteen minutes shy of the twenty four hours mark.

In the tent the two guys pulled out their GPS and it read 595 km between the camps, as the crow flies.

Kite skiing on the same track for long days places stress on certain areas of the body, assured the two men, no matter age.

Our left calve muscle was especially sore, as was the flat of the feet. Because holding the kite's handles places the hands above the heart, they tend to go cold a lot, and after hours of gripping, fingers begin to feel numb. As to the thighs and knees, the first few hours of our rocket fueled travel had put serious strain on them, and they were worked!

Currently Eric and Sebastian are waiting for directives on how they are getting picked up from the coast to reach Qaanaaq. They are ready to decent the 20 or so km down the glacier. They reported very warm temperatures.

Narsaq Cape Morris Jesup Qaanaaq (kite):
Vesa Luomala and Toni Vaartimo

Greenland is melting under us, wrote the two Finns a few days ago. Instead for heading towards Cape Morris Jesup, the most northern point of Greenland, they have decided to change their route plan and kite ski directly to Qaanaaq.

They reported warm temperatures and any snow on their gear melts fast, which means everything was getting wet again.

June 16: Days on ice: 55
Location: 72.46N, 046.50W
Latest day distance 0 km
Total distance: 1336,6 km
Height: 2658 m
Temperature: +0 ℃
Wind 6-8 m/s N

Kangerlussuaq (Sønderstrøm Fjord or Point 660) to Isortoq or Nagtivit Glacier:

Ivar Hoel and Thor Elvebakk and Hvitserk team (Trygve, Solveig, Shoresh, Vibeke, Caroline, Teija, Ingrid and Thomas)

The Hvitserk team finished in Isortoq.

Martin Hülle and Johannes Lang

Their expedition is cancelled because of too much meltwater, they told ExplorersWeb.

Toni Vaartimo and Vesa Luomala - Finland
Eric McNair-Landry and Sebastian Copeland (Sebastians blog) - Canada and USA/France
Eric McNair-Landry and Sebastian Copeland - Canada and USA/France
Eric McNair-Landry and Sebastian Copeland - Canada and USA/France
Jon Chalmers and Carl Alvey - UK
Mike Dann, Tim Tottenham, Simon Edmundson and Paddy Scott - UK, PolarIce blog (finished)
Mike Dann, Tim Tottenham, Simon Edmundson and Paddy Scott - UK, PolarIce website
Nils Arne Ro, Paal Brudevoll, Hans Friis and Ragnar Sandmark - Norway
Christian Eides team Latitude (Pal, Fredrik, Hans Christian, Silje, Anne, Matilda, Rune and Thomas) - Norway
Christian Eides team Latitude - Norway map and photos
Cecilie Skog, Aud Ingri Mediå Lenning, Sølvi Oak, Magnhild S. Hatløy, Nina Marie Pedersen, Else Haugland, Unni Storm Johannsen Nordahl, Marianne Aamodt, Solveig Nordstrand, Ada Sofie Austegard, Elin Fossum, Kristine Wikander and Bjorn Sekkesæter - Norway (finished)
Ivar Hoel and Thor Elvebakk and the 8 Hvitserk skiers (Trygve, Solveig, Shoresh, Vibeke, Caroline, Teija, Ingrid and Thomas) - Norway
Terje With Lunndal and Christian Iversen Styve - Norway
Ben Thackwray and Ian Couch - UK (finished)
Jari Nousiainen, Johanna Nousiainen, Lauri Lahtinen and Marko Savola - Finland
Catherine Fortier and Frédéric Rouillard - Canada
Martin Hülle and Johannes Lang Germany
Aleksander Gamme and Petter, Cecilie, Thomas, Svein, Øyvind, Birgitte and Alfi - Norway
Erik Jørgensen kayak - Denmark

Webcam and weather conditions at Summit Camp on the Greenland Ice Cap
World Wide Weather for Expeditions
Danish Meteorological Institute (Greenland weather)

#Polar #Stats #topstory

Sebastian: We wobbled into the tent, made some food, and agreed it was time to check our distance. Image over Contact5 (click to enlarge)
Image by Sebastian Copeland courtesy Sebastian Copeland, SOURCE
Sebastian Copeland and Eric McNair did 595 km in 24 hours in 2010. That's 100 km in 4 hours.
Image by Sebastian Copeland courtesy Sebastian Copeland, SOURCE