Ben Edwards, 14, is part of the only British team to circumnavigate the North Pole in one season and has just sailed into the record books. The Cambridge teenager is officially the youngest person to sail the Northeast and Northwest passages in a single season.
Edwards is raising money to support pediatric gastroenterology research taking place at Addenbrooke Hospital. The cause is personal for the young sailor, for he suffers long-termed, mysterious inflammation of the gut. The goal is to raise 20,000 pounds, or roughly $26,000.
Edwards has been quoted as saying, “I want to prove that, despite the fact I am in constant pain, I can still do this. I won’t let it stop me from achieving my goal.”The seven-strong Polar Ocean Challenge team, led by British explorer David Hempleman-Adams, departed Bristol on June 19, 2016 for the four-month expedition. The team sailed 24 hours a day and worked in pairs to tackle two, four-hour watches every day. The Northwest Passage was conquered in an astonishing fourteen days, as it was almost completely ice-free, a stark reminder of the dramatic effects of climate change. The team completed the adventure on the 48-foot, aluminum, purpose-built yacht Northabout. The harrowing route covered about 13,500 nautical miles over freezing Arctic Circle waters.
Hempleman-Adams is spearheading his own initiative to inform young people about climate change and inspire them to take action about it. More information about Edwards, the Polar Ocean Challenge adventure, and the group’s charity efforts are available on their blog at act4addenbrookes.org.uk. We at Northwest Yachting toast these brave sailing explorers and their worthy causes. We also eye the vanishing ice to the north with a wary eye.
Photos: Polar Ocean Challenge.