British crew rows to the North Pole

Jock Wishart and his North Pole crew

A crew of British rowers has completed an extraordinary expedition – rowing 500 miles from Resolute Bay in the Canadian Arctic to the 1996 location of the magnetic North Pole.

The Old Pulteney crew, led by experienced Arctic explorer Jock Wishart, rowed for three weeks through hostile conditions and packed ice before arriving at the 1996 magnetic North Pole at 18:30 local time(01:30 BST) today.

“I think this is one of my greatest achievements,” Wishart told BBC News.

“It was a dream four years ago but now it’s reality.”

Long-distance cyclist Mark Beaumont was also in the group of six rowers, alongside Billy Gammon, Rob Sleep, David Mans, and Mark Delstanche.

The crew had expected to complete the challenge sooner, but endured a frustrating end to the journey as a barrier of ice held them up mere miles from the North Pole.

“All exhausted and resting up after tough, tough 9hrs hauling boat over last 2 miles of pack ice field,” Beaumont said on Twitter, after finishing the gruelling expedition.

Their reinforced Ice Boat was built by Rossiter Rowing Boats in Christchurch, Dorset, of marine plywood, Kevlar and epoxy.

The polar challenge was undertaken in a bid to highlight the impact of climate change on the Arctic, a point that crew-member Mark Delstanche was keen to highlight before embarking on the expedition.

“It is only possible because of the melting ice in the polar regions,” he said. “Whether this is cyclical, whether this is because we are pumping too much CO2 into the atmosphere, it is happening nonetheless.

“We want to demonstrate to people there’s a problem up there.”

Their voyage was the first polar rowing expedition since Antarctica 1916, when Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew rowed clear of the stricken Endurance, and Wishert’s crew are the first to ever row to a pole position.

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