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Six Summits Expedition has already achieved a human powered circumnavigation:

  ANTIPODES ACHIEVED by ERDEN ERUÇ
   1st pair near (S16.10176,E044.40579) west of Madagascar
 2nd pair near (S12.37600,E040.14403) in northern Mozambique
 3rd pair near (S11.14864,E031.87672) in northeastern Zambia
 4th pair near (S04.33445,W016.20405) on the South Atlantic
 5th pair near (N03.51445,W035.06006) north of Natal, Brasil
 6th pair near (N19.82118,W083.15139) on the Caribbean Sea
 7th pair near (N19.83241,W082.97989) on the Caribbean Sea
 8th pair near (N19.82748,W083.02486) on the Caribbean Sea
 9th pair near (N19.82806,W083.02055) on the Caribbean Sea
10th pair near (N19.82798,W083.02273) on the Caribbean Sea
11th pair near (N20.03665,W083.42335) on the Caribbean Sea
12th pair near (N20.08717,W083.51607) on the Caribbean Sea
and (N16.10176,W135.59421) ESE of Hawaii
and (N12.37600,W139.85597) SE of Hawaii
and (N11.14864,W148.12328) SSE of Hawaii
and (N04.33445,E163.79594) near Kosrae island
and (S03.51445,E144.93994) near Bam island on Bismarck Sea
and (S19.82118,E096.84861) on the Indian Ocean
and (S19.83241,E097.02012) on the Indian Ocean
and (S19.82748,E096.97514) on the Indian Ocean
and (S19.82806,E096.97945) on the Indian Ocean
and (S19.82798,E096.97727) on the Indian Ocean
and (S20.03665,E096.57665) on the Indian Ocean
and (S20.08717,E096.48392) on the Indian Ocean
 
 
  To see the above map in Google Earth, please click here where the red line represents the actual circumnavigation course and the green line the antipodal track.
For distances covered by Erden during his circumnavigation, please click here.

 

Circumnavigation

What's so special about this very unique word?

A basic definition of a world circumnavigation is an around the world journey on a route which:

  • begins and ends at the same location,
  • travels in one general direction, and
  • reaches a pair of antipodes.

The implications from the above descriptions are that a true circumnavigation route:

  • must cross the Equator at a minimum of two points,
  • must touch at least one pair of antipodes, and
  • must travel a distance that is equal to or more than the length of the Equator.
According Merriam-Webster, the word circumnavigation dates back to 1634 meaning "to go completely around" or to navigate the circumference. The world is a sphere. Going around a sphere entails great circles and a circumnavigation route must approximate a great circle. Given the above gentlemen's rules, it is understood that when a route is laid out to travel only in one hemisphere, northern or southern, without even touching the Equator, such a route becomes a polar circumnavigation at best. Any alleged circumnavigation route which does not include a pair of antipodes cannot be called a circumnavigation. This is the only way to ensure that one's travels go "to the ends of the earth" or "to the farthest possible location on earth" or "beyond the horizon" and that no shortcuts are taken.

Antipodes: Pairs of points on earth which are antipodes, are located diametrically opposite of each other. Every point on earth has its own antipode. The North Pole for example, is the natural antipode of the South Pole. This link provides a visual tool to find your antipode.

Great Circle: The center of a great circle is the same as that of the earth. For example, the longitudes are on great circles, and the Equator is the latitude which defines the longest great circle given the earth's shape. Other lines of latitude which are shorter are not great circles, because their centers do not match that of the Earth. Great circles divide the earth into two equal hemispheres. Following a great circle path is not practical for surface journeys thus, a true circumnavigation will approximate a great circle by complying with the antipodal requirement.

AdventureStats rules do not distinguish between an around-the-world surface journey and a circumnavigation. They are treated as one and the same, requiring the journey to cover a minimum distance of 40,000km or 21,600nm and to include a pair of antipodes.

Solo Circumnavigation assembled by Richard Konkolski offers background on the evolution of the circumnavigation standards in sailing. According to Konkolski, after Sir Francis Chichester's Gypsy Moth IV in 1967 crossed two pairs of antipodes nonstop along the route, in 1971, the founding editor of the Guinness Book of Records Norris McWhirter published Chichester's precedent as a rule which prevented shortcuts from being taken. For over 20 years, since 1970s to early 1990s this or a similar antipode requirement was so posted in the marine records tables of the Guinness Book of Records by Nobby Clarke who was solo circumnavigation historian and Guinness Book marine records consultant. Later Richard Boehmer who specialized in multihulls, continued in cooperation with Guinness Book for some time after Nobby Clarke retired in 1990 from this activity.

Guinness World Records, which is an independent arbiter of all records, requires that a human powered around-the-world surface journey must:

  • start and finish at the same location,
  • cross the Equator,
  • cross all lines of longitude,
  • resume each leg of the journey from the exact point at which the last one ended,
  • cover a minimum distance equal to that of the Tropic of Capricorn, which is 36,788km and
  • proceed in one direction, east or west, any distance doubled back must be deducted from the total.
Guinness recognizes that a human powered circumnavigation by surface travel is a unique around-the-world journey, which must also include at least one pair of antipodal points.

Precedent - Surface Travel (human powered): The first human powered circumnavigation having met the antipodal requirement was completed by Jason Lewis (British) of Expedition 360 (12th July 1994 - 6th October 2007). Jason crossed the Equator twice, and reached the antipode to his route across the Atlantic while in Australia. Jason returned to Greenwich in England on this "circumnavigation by human power" and demonstrated to the rest of us that a TRUE Human Powered Circumnavigation is possible.

Guinness World Records has defined the rules for Fastest Circumnavigation by Bicycle requiring the route to pass through a pair of antipodal points. The first one to attempt this record, Steven Strange from England began his bicycle ride on May 9, 2004 in Vancouver and 276 days later, finished his circumnavigation at the same place on February 13, 2005. As of 1 August 2010, Vincent Cox holds the record by 163 days. It must be noted that this record definition forces the riders to take plane rides across oceans and over countries with political or other turmoil. A summary of this class of effort is summarized on this Wikipedia page.

Another British man Alastair Humphreys completed a unique circumnavigation journey. Alastair crossed the oceans by boating, and he bicycled while on land. By the time that he had returned back to İstanbul in September 2005 closing the knot, he had covered 69,000 km. Alastair chose to bicycle another 3,000 km all the way to England to conclude his journey.

Karl Bushby (British) of Goliath Expedition started his journey on foot on November 1st, 1998 in the Chilean town of Punta Arenas. Karl walked north through South America, Central and North America, before crossing from Alaska into Siberia, using the semi-frozen Arctic waters of the Bering Strait. With this achievement, Karl and his partner Dimitri Kieffer became the first modern men to walk across the Bering Straits.

Karl's journey will continue west through Siberia, down to Russia's southern border, across Asia and Europe. The finish will be (pending authorization) through the Channel Tunnel and into the United Kingdom. Karl's walk will be a "walk around-the-world" because his route crossed the Equator and Karl will have covered a distance of 36,000 miles in excess of the length of the Tropic of Capricorn. Should Karl go through the town of Irkutsk which is the antipode to his starting point Punta Arenas, then Karl will have achieved a "circumnavigation by walking."

Precedent - Surface Travel (the hard way): Sir Ranulph Fiennes and his team successfully completed Transglobe in 1982 after over two years of work. Transglobe was the first polar circumnavigation by surface travel, touching the two poles of the earth, which are true antipodes by definition. The story of this journey is told in the book: "To the Ends of the Earth." This expedition did not even have to cross all meridians...

Precedent - Surface Travel (sailing): Sailors typically navigate the interconnected bodies of open water around the world. Many prominent sailing races, including the Vendée Globe, leave from Europe, travel into the South Atlantic, then follow an easterly heading around Antarctica, clearing Cape of Good Hope (tip of South Africa), then Cape Horn (tip of South America) respectively, eventually returning back north to Europe.

The World Speed Sailing Record Council requires that an "Around the World" sailing record claim must have crossed the Equator. Rule 26.1.a in "the courses offshore" section of the WSSRC Rules Book is quoted below:

    "Around the World, eastbound and westbound"
    "To sail around the World, a vessel must start from and return to the same point, must cross all meridians of longitude and must cross the Equator. It may cross some but not all meridians more than once (i.e. two roundings of Antarctica do not count). The shortest orthodromic track of the vessel must be at least 21,600 nautical miles in length calculated based on a 'perfect sphere'. In calculating this distance, it is to be assumed that the vessel will sail around Antarctica in latitude 63 degrees south. A vessel starting from any point where the direct orthodromic distance is too short shall pass one single island or other fixed point on a required side so as to lengthen his orthodromic track to the minimum distance."
Adrian Flanagan, challenged this concept and completed a "vertical circumnavigation" by sailing westward in the Arctic Ocean after crossing the Bering Straits. On October 28th 2005, Adrian set sail to attempt the first ever single-handed, vertical circumnavigation westwards via Cape Horn and the Russian Arctic. On May 21st 2008, after 405 days of sailing, covering over 31,000 miles he arrived home at The Royal Southern Yacht Club, to achieve his dream.

Precedent - Exclusively For Flights (ballooning): Due to meteorological laws, hot air or helium balloons are dependent on the prevailing winds in the atmosphere to travel around the world. The eastbound jetstream in the southern hemisphere is an example of such winds. Steve Fossett in his historic first around-the-world balloon flight in the summer of 2002, launched "Bud Light Spirit of Freedom" from Australia, drifting east over the Pacific, South America, South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. His flight took him back across the same longitude he had started over Australia to be complete.

The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) has defined the around-the-world flight rules specifically for "Class A: Free Balloons" and "Class B: Airships," the latter of which includes blimps. When such a flight crosses all longitudes, covers a distance which is at least half that of the circumference of the equator, eventually crossing the same longitude where it started, then it is considered an around the world flight. Needless to say, these rules are exclusively for aerial journeys.

FAI never uses the unique expression circumnavigation in its "around-the-world-flight" definition, and never pretends to offer this ruling for any other application (as in surface journeys). FAI has stated in writing that they will not take a position on records by surface travel. FAI does not enforce an antipodal requirement by this around-the-world flight definition, nor does it expect pilots to cross the equator, recognizing the climatological constraints.

Distances covered by Erden Eruç during his human powered circumnavigation  nautical
miles
  statute
miles
  km
  Bodega Bay to Papua New Guinea waters: 312 days
    (completed between 10 July 2007 - 17 May 2008)
  9,072  10,440  16,802
  Continuation on Bismarck Sea to land at Finsch Harbor in PNG
    (completed between 15 Jan - 4 Feb 2009)
  756  870  1,401
  Finsch Harbor to Port Moresby in PNG
    (completed between 22 Sept - 26 Nov 2009)
  418  482  776
  Port Moresby to Sharp point on Cape York peninsula
    (completed between 8 Dec 2009 - 10 Jan 2010)
  628  723  1,163
  Sharp point to Cooktown
    (completed between 28 Jan - 15 Feb 2010)
  421  485  780
  Cooktown to Thredbo
    (completed between 18 Feb - 9 Apr 2010)
  1,948  2,241  3,607
  Thredbo to Carnarvon
    (completed between 12 Apr - 7 July 2010)
  2,724  3,134  5,044
  Carnarvon in Australia to Mahajanga in Madagascar
    (completed between 13 July - 26 November 2010)
  5,086  5,853  9,421
  Mahajanga in Madagascar to Angoche in Mozambique
    (completed between 26 March - 20 April 2011)
  581  668  1,076
  Angoche in Mozambique to Arusha in Tanzania
    (completed between 2 May- 5 June 2011)
  1,144  1,316  2,119
  Arusha in Tanzania to Lüderitz in Namibia
    (completed between 21 June - 21 August 2011)
  2,813  3,238  5,211
  Lüderitz in Namibia to Guiria in Venezuela
    (completed between 10 October 2011 - 11 March 2012)
  5,465  6,288  10,121
  Guiria to Carupano in Venezuela
    (completed on 19 March 2012)
  74.4  85.6  138
  Carupano in Venezuela to Cameron in Louisiana
    (completed between 21 March - 27 May 2012)
  2,589  2,980  4,795
  Cameron in Louisiana to Bodega Bay in California
    (completed between 21 June - 21 July 2012)
  2,076  2,389  3,845
  Total distance covered during this proper circumnavigation:  35,795  41,193  66,299


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