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Adventurer abandons Pacific crossing


FREAK CURRENTS - weather conditions in the Pacific "against all models and forecasts that exist of this region". A Dutch adventurer attempting to row solo from South America to Australia has postponed his trip because of strong winds and freak currents in the Pacific Ocean. He set off in a custom-made vessel from Peru in March, planning to row across the widest part of the Pacific Ocean - a distance of more than 16,000 kilometres - without assistance. A fierce storm in August pushed him and his elaborate rowing vessel onto a coral reef on the island of Atafu, in the Tokelau islands, 4,000km short of his destination. He spent a month living on the island, overcoming his injuries sustained in the wreckage and awaiting supplies from his support crew to rebuild his boat. While the unscheduled stopover put an end to his attempt to make the crossing unaided, he set off for Australia again in October, hoping to arrive in Brisbane by Christmas. Despite the risk of cyclones, the Dutchman believed the currents and winds in the Pacific would steer him towards Australia's east coast. However, over the last fortnight the winds and currents have forced him south and even back towards South America, losing an average daily distance of 15km despite hours of rowing. The weather had been driving the adventurer mad. "This weather condition is against all models and forecasts that exist of this region." Dutch forecasters believe the UNUSUAL conditions are a result of the La Nina phenomenon - cooler than normal sea-surface temperatures. He has decided to now head for Fiji, where he will dock his vessel, before returning next year to complete the journey to Brisbane.

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