Sailing hero Pete Goss is preparing to embark on his latest maritime adventure – circumnavigating Tasmania in a kayak.
Not content with a string of previous endeavours – including solo round-the-world races and sailing a wooden Cornish fishing boat from Newlyn to Melbourne – the 51-year-old now plans to paddle 900 miles around the island off the southern tip of Australia.
Pete, who lives at St John in South East Cornwall, will be joined by friend and fellow adventurer Andy Warrender. They hope to set off on December 29 and have chosen an anti-clockwise route which is likely to take up to two months to complete.
And despite being halfway round the world at New Year, Cornwall and Devon will not be far from their thoughts as they paddle past places with names like Launceston, Devonport and the River Tamar.
All camping gear and provisions will be carried aboard the kayaks and Pete has designed a sailing rig for the boats to give wind assistance when conditions allow. They stress that it is not a race and that they fully intend to enjoy the scenery and wildlife along the way.
"Many of my previous adventures have been non-stop and I have often wished I had the time to explore places properly," he said. "Tasmania is a beautiful island with a varied and exciting coastline. There can be no better way to get close to it than in a sea kayak. We are making no claims and we are not trying to break any records. But I do want to test the sailing rig. Some of the earliest kayaks had sails and many sea-kayakers have experimented with them. We are taking the design further, using Andy's kayaking knowledge and my sailing experience."
Pete is no stranger to the rigours of the Southern Ocean, having sailed there aboard Spirit of Mystery in 2008 and during the 1996 Vendee Globe Challenge. The Vendee race turned him into a national hero for the dramatic rescue of fellow competitor Raphael Dinelli in hurricane-force winds. Scuppering his own chances of winning the race in order to save Dinelli, he was awarded the MBE and France's Legion d'Honneur for his courage.
A keen kayaker for several years, Andy was a member of the first team to paddle to and from St Kilda in the Outer Hebrides. He previously joined Pete on a trip to the North Pole and for last year's Gore-tex Challenge, when they piloted six-metre ribs from Scotland to the Arctic Circle.
Andy said the idea for the Tasmania trip – which is being supported by hi-tech clothing firm Gore-tex – came during a family holiday spent touring Tasmania's rugged coast.
"I told Pete about it and he was immediately hooked," he said. "We both felt drawn to the adventure it had to offer."
Readers will be able to follow their progress via a live tracker, video posts and blog updates at www.petegoss.com