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CLOUD PULLER; Pair attempting to use kites to 'sail' from the Pole.


TWO of the country's foremost adventure fanatics leave this week to spend Christmas in the frozen wastes of Antarctica attempting an unusual method of polar travel - high-tech ski-buggies powered by kites.

Travelling at speeds of more than 50mph and sitting just 18 inches above the ice and snow, Jamie Young, 50, and Brian Cunningham, 59, hope to start their milestone journey from the South Pole on December 21.

The buggies, which have only been tested on a Connemara beach and the Les Diablerets glacier in Switzerland, were designed specifically for the expedition by Formula racing team engineer Kieron Bradley.

The pair plan to fly to Punta Arenas in Chile tomorrow to prepare their gear which was sent out earlier in the month.

They will have to brave temper-atures as low as -25C during their 600 mile journey from the South Pole to Patriot Hills. If all goes well the journey should take about a week to ten days - trekking the journey would take an estimated 60 days.

Jamie said the pair hope to travel more than 65 miles a day, and it being winter there will be daylight for 24 hours a day at the pole. Jamie said they will use the extra daylight to keep going for up to 18 hours a day if conditions are good.

Weight has been kept to a minimum to boost speeds. The buggies weigh only 75lbs (34 kilos) and will carry 360lbs (160 kilos) of gear.

Jamie said: "We are struggling to keep them as light as possible and at the same time maintain reasonable safety parameters."

If one buggy fails, both men can travel on the surviving one.

Each buggie will carry five different kites - calling in a ski-plane if they need to be rescued will cost more than $150,000.

Jamie has been looking forward to getting back to Antarctica which he last visited on another adventure five years ago: "It is a fascinating continent with all sorts of history and an inspiring landscape.

"The Pole itself is at 3,000 metres and generally speaking the wind falls off the icecap so we thought we would try it this way round first to prove that it was possible."

Jamie, originally from Co Antrim, founded the K2 Little Killary Adventure Centre in Co Mayo with his wife Mary.

He has competed in a trans-Atlantic, single handed race, skippered a US racing yacht, led a kayaking expedition to Guinea Buisseau and paddled around Cape Horn in a kayak in 1989.

In 1997 he was part of a team of Irishmen who re-enacted Sir Ernest Shackleton's famous 1915 trip in the 23-foot James Caird lifeboat from Elephant Island to South Georgia in the South Ocean after his ship Endurance was crushed in the ice.

He began his adventuring career in 1967 by yachting to Iceland and back. In 1972 he was one of three who used sledges they designed themselves to traverse the Vatnajokull icecap in Iceland - the third largest in the world.


ADVENTURERS: Brian and James, right; TAKE A BREAK: Jamie and companion Brian are going to use kites as their main source of power in Antarctica; MADE OF THE KITE STUFF: Jamie is hoping to travel 600 miles from the Pole
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 15, 2002
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