Rowing Solo

In January, England's Olly Hicks, 26, set out from Tasmania to become the first person to row solo around Antarctica. His vessel: a 24-foot, fuel-cell-and-solar-panel-fortified boat called the Flying Carrot, which was designed to withstand 50-foot waves while navigating the storm-racked Southern Ocean. ABE STREEP caught up with Hicks—who rowed solo across the Atlantic at age 23—via sat phone, 50 days into his planned two-year voyage.

Outside: Where are you?
HICKS: In the Tasman Sea, about 500 miles from New Zealand.

The trip is 15,000 miles total. How are you doing so far?
We'd hoped to be in South Georgia [6,500 miles from Tasmania] after six months, but we're way behind schedule.

So how many miles have you rowed?
Four hundred.

Seen anything interesting?
We've seen a few whales and orcas about 200 meters away. We've seen one ship, and I radio-checked him to see if he could see me. He never called back, so I was rowing very hard away from him.,

And when you say "we," you mean …
Me and the boat.

How are the MREs you're eating?
Hunger is a good sauce. But I haven't packed them well, so it's quite repetitive. Chicken curry, lamb curry, beef curry, all sorts of bloody curries.

Virgin outfitted you with a waterproof laptop, sat phones, video cameras, GPS. What's your favorite gadget?
My stereo. We had a country-and-western day the other day; yesterday was trance.

Bring any good books?
I've got a lot, like Shackleton's.

That might not be the best inspiration for circumnavigating Antarctica.
[Laughs] You've got that right.

Since this article's publication, Hicks has abandoned his quest, citing his boat's navigation troubles amid the Southern Ocean winds.

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