VEDANGI’S QUEST / CANADIAN LEG NEARS COMPLETION

Vedangi Kulkarni (This photo was downloaded from the cyclist’s Facebook page and is being used here for representation purpose only.)

Having completed the opening Australian chapter and New Zealand after that, Vedangi is close to wrapping up the Canadian leg of her journey, cycling around the planet.

Vedangi Kulkarni, who is attempting to be the fastest woman cyclist to go around the planet unsupported, has covered more than three fourths of the Canadian leg of her journey.

On September 9, her father Vivek Kulkarni informed that Vedangi had reached Ottawa, the capital of Canada. At that point she had covered 9020 miles (14516 kilometers) since commencement of her trip in Perth, Australia. This approximates to half the distance required for circumnavigation. It took her 54 days and some hours (but less than 55 overall, as per Vivek) to cover the distance.

On her Facebook page, the young cyclist wrote: How do I feel? Grateful! I feel grateful for the colourful sunrises and sunsets, the mountains and the flat lands, the tarmac and gravel paths, the beautiful trees, creeks, rivers and lakes, the howls of the wolves and close wildlife encounters, the pleasant temperatures and freezing cold, the thunderstorms and stormy winds and tailwinds, and above all, to the PEOPLE who have supported me however and whenever and wherever I’ve needed – family, friends and absolute strangers! You’re my invisible peloton and I value every single one out there wishing well for me.

The record Vedangi seeks to improve upon is the one held by Italy’s Paola Gianotti. In 2014 she completed circumnavigation unsupported on a bicycle – although not in consecutive stages – in 144 days.

According to Vivek, Vedangi had to attend to work concerning her Schengen visa for Europe, in Ottawa. For some reason in the journey so far, this particular visa had proved tough to obtain. On September 15, in a post on Facebook, Vedangi confirmed receipt of Schengen visa. She will now proceed to Halifax in Nova Scotia to complete the Canadian leg, Vivek said.

Vedangi began her passage across Canada in Vancouver. Earlier she had cycled from Perth to Brisbane in Australia (5631 kilometers) and put in an additional 1000 kilometers or so, in New Zealand.

As per information available on Vedangi’s website, her journey of 18,000 miles (approximately 29,000 kilometers) will be attempted in four stages. The first stage will see her cycling through Australia and New Zealand. The second stage will see her cycling across Alaska and Canada. The third stage spans Europe, Scandinavia, Russia and Mongolia. The fourth and last stage covers China and the trip back to where she started in Australia. Given the fact that all required visas cannot be applied for and obtained well in advance, the exact route of Vedangi’s expedition has to stay open to adjustments as her journey progresses.

Vedangi, 19, is currently a student at Bournemouth University, UK. She spent some part of her early childhood in Panvel (not far from Mumbai); later she attended Jnan Prabodhini school at Nigdi near Pune. Her family now resides in Kolhapur. The circumnavigation plan assumed shape sometime in September-October 2017. Vedangi’s circumnavigation attempt will take her across 14-15 countries, the final number depending on how the route is affected by visa availability. A film is being made on her journey. There will be a film crew meeting her at various points on the way.

(The author, Shyam G Menon, is a freelance journalist based in Mumbai.)

2018 GGR / RACE PASSING THROUGH INDIAN OCEAN

Commander Abhilash Tomy KC (This photo was downloaded from the Facebook page of Commander Abhilash Tomy and is being used for representation purpose. No copyright infringement intended.)

The 2018 GGR, which began July 1 from France, is now passing through the Indian Ocean, albeit way down in the southern hemisphere. The race with technology levels pegged back to what prevailed during the 1968 GGR entails a solo, nonstop circumnavigation of the planet in a sail boat. It is adventure, refined.

More than two months since the 2018 Golden Globe Race (GGR) commenced from Les Sables-d’Olonne in France, the race leaders are past Cape of Good Hope and Madagascar. They are well into the Indian Ocean; the region they are in qualifies to be Southern Ocean. As of September 13, 2018, they lay far out at sea in the southern hemisphere, south-south west from the Indian peninsula.

Among the world’s great capes, the next one for them to rendezvous with is Cape Leeuwin, Australia. Well past this cape at Storm Bay in Hobart, Tasmania, the participants will have a brief meet up with race officials and media. According to race rules, the participants will pass through a `gate’ and drop all sail on the boat if it is safe to do so. The entrant may moor, anchor, motor or drift but may not re-cross the gate to continue to Cape Horn until at least 90 minutes has elapsed. During this time when the nonstop, unsupported character of the race will continue to remain intact, the participants can pass on any photos, films, letters they may have. They will also have to display their `safety pack’ for inspection. The pack – it contains a portable GPS chart plotter – is meant for use in emergency and a broken seal (indicating the pack was opened) denies the participant any official ranking in GGR or GGR trophies. He / she can however continue in the event under `Chichester Class.’ Further instances of stopping anywhere or breaking the seal of the pack, will disqualify the participant from the event, altogether.

As of mid-September, of 18 sailors originally participating in the 2018 GGR, seven had retired from the race while one stood relegated to Chichester Class. Commander Abhilash Tomy KC of the Indian Navy – he is the sole participant from India and only invitee from Asia – was among those still in the race. At the time of writing he was in fourth position. He had made some significant gains in the preceding days. The race leader by sizable margin was Jean Luc Van Den Heede of France. He was followed by Mark Slats of Netherlands, Gregor McGuckin of Ireland and Abhilash in that order.

The 2018 GGR features solo nonstop circumnavigation of the planet in a sail boat. It is a repeat of the original GGR of 1968, which produced the first solo nonstop circumnavigation in a sail boat; the distinction went to Sir Robin Knox-Johnston of UK, who accomplished the voyage in the India built-Suhaili. The 2018 edition is unique for pegging technology aboard participating sail boats, to the same level as in 1968. No digital devices have been permitted. Navigation is done using a sextant. Abhilash is the first Indian to do a solo nonstop circumnavigation in a sail boat. The 2018 GGR is his second attempt at solo nonstop circumnavigation. For the race, Abhilash is sailing in the Thuriya, a replica of the Suhaili built in Goa at Aquarius Shipyard (for more on the Thuriya please click on this link:  https://shyamgopan.com/2017/08/11/2018-golden-globe-race-ggr-meet-the-thuriya/).

(The author, Shyam G Menon, is a freelance journalist based in Mumbai.)