Two centuries after the “white continent” was recorded officially for the first time by an expedition led by Irishman Edward Bransfield, Kerry round-the-world offshore racer Damian Foxall plans to explore Antarctica by sail.
Kerry-born Foxall will be accompanied on his “Team South” expeditions – which are open to the public - by marine biologists Lucy Hunt and Niall McAllister.
As The Irish Independent reports in its Review section today, the three highly accomplished sailors and scientists from Cork and Kerry will take their background in environmental education, research and adventure to head to Antarctica, to experience first-hand the impact of climate change and witness the fragile ecosystem inhabited by penguins, albatrosses, whales and seals.
"I look forward to stepping foot on the continent for the first time"
“Having been involved in over ten round-the-world races, I have seen the southern ocean and the world in a way that few get to experience - icebergs, albatross and forgotten sub-Antarctic islands,” Foxall says.
“ I look forward to stepping foot on the continent for the first time and to sharing this unique privilege with my team and our guests,” he says.
The trio will work with Quixote Expeditions, skippering the 65ft ketch, Ocean Tramp. The Antarctic expedition company has an ethos of community collaboration, education, scientific research and minimal footprint.
When not offshore racing,Foxall is a passionate adventurer and advocate for ocean health, while Niall MacAllister, who runs marine wildlife expeditions and sail training in west Cork, has recently been skippering on the research sailing sloop, Song of the Whale, for a series of marine mammal research programmes.
Lucy Hunt created the ocean health education programme for the Volvo Ocean Race 2017/18 and is now working on the new programme for 2021/22 Ocean Race, while directing her Sea Synergy marine education and awareness centre in her native Waterville, Co Kerry.
The trio has linked in with ornithologist and Antarctic guide Jim Wilson and polar explorer enthusiast Eugene Furlong, who are involved in the project to commemorate Edward Bransfield in his native Ballinacurra, Co Cork, in January 2020.
Team South expeditions start at 9,000 US dollars per person for two weeks, excluding flights. Photographers and film crews are among early bookings, and there is availability on some legs for equally curious citizen scientists and adventurous types, who won’t need much sailing experience.
The five consecutive expeditions start in December and end in March, and the last leg of the journey includes sailing the Antarctic Peninsula before crossing the Drake passage to the Falkland Islands.
A free berth is awarded each trip to a research scientist throughout the southern summer season which runs from November to March. More details are here
Read more about Team South and about Edward Bransfield who put Antarctica on the map in The Irish Independent here