Row to the Pole

Image of Jock WishartBritish explorer Jock Wishart and Old Pulteney Single Malt Scotch Whisky have today unveiled a remarkable mission to conquer what could be one of the world’s last great ‘firsts’: the first rowing attempt to one of the world’s Poles.

Announced at a reception in London’s Watermen’s Hall this morning, ‘Old Pulteney Row to the Pole’ will see Jock and a 5-strong crew brave some of the harshest conditions on earth as they row in a specially designed boat through Arctic waters to reach the pole – a feat of extreme physical and mental endurance that has never before been attempted and if successful, will rank alongside the first row across the Atlantic.

The challenge will take place in July/August 2011 and is of global significance as both a pioneering maritime adventure and an environmental expedition. The planned 450 mile route across the Arctic sea starts in Resolute Bay in Canada with timing being of the essence as the final section of the journey is only navigable for a few weeks of the year before refreezing. It has only become possible to consider an attempt like this in recent years due to the increase in seasonal ice melt and the much-documented deterioration of the Arctic landscape.

The adventure will be captured online and on camera for UK and international audiences. It will follow Jock’s extraordinary preparations and the 4-6 week long row where his team will face dramatic ice-bound coastlines and shifting sea-ice barriers on their voyage and their haul of the boat over land which is necessary to complete the journey.

Jock, who is a descendant of Scotland’s national bard Robert Burns, will row for hours on end with his crew in challenging weather and subzero temperatures with little chance for rest or shelter. Decisions about navigation and the route will be critical. Jock’s background as an expedition leader and his long track record of organising successful record attempts will stand him in good stead as he faces his biggest challenge to date.

Preparations are already underway for their August 2011 attempt:

  • A recce of the route taken by plane in August 2009
  • An advanced rowing boat design is being constructed to make it possible for it to be man-hauled across the ice. At a later date, this specially designed boat will be unveiled – believed to be the first ‘ice boat’
  • Jock has begun the challenging process of finding and selecting his crew who will activate a ‘three on, three off’ rowing and resting regime
  • Planning has taken place with scientific research partners to deliver environmental data and insight from the journey

The Old Pulteney Row to the Pole will be the first polar expedition to involve rowing since Ernest Shackleton’s men took to their boats to save their lives in the South Pole, on his now legendary 1916 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. 

Jock is established as one of the UK’s leading adventurers and explorers, with a successful background in polar exploration, rowing and extreme navigational feats. He led the team which established fifteen new world speed records for powered circumnavigation and captained the team that broke the London to Paris rowing record in 1999. He has a lifetime interest in polar exploration and in 1992 journey he was part of the first team to walk unsupported to the Geomagnetic North Pole.

‘A few years ago a good rowing friend joked that a row to the pole would be the ultimate challenge for someone like me, who is passionate about both polar exploration and boating,’ Jock commented.

‘ It’s therefore incredible for me, after three years of planning, to be unveiling this expedition today and to begin the intense process of work and training that now lies before us to prepare for what will be the greatest challenge of my life.’

For updates and further information on the expedition you can visit the Row to the Pole website