In January 2003, a historic, highly anticipated journey began with 11 experienced sailors including Magnus Olsson, Skip Novak, Hasse Bauer and Richard Brisius. The group was driven by the desire to retrace one of the most significant, yet nearly forgotten, voyages to the Antarctic. After a full year of planning, the team left Ushuaia in Argentina with hopes of visiting destinations first reached 100 years earlier during an expedition led by Otto Nordenskjöld.
During the fateful Nordeskjöld Expedition of 1904, the captain and crew were beset by accident and misfortune that ultimately stranded them in three different locations.
Exposed to the cruel, relentless environment of the world’s southernmost continent, the majority of the crew succumbed to the extreme cold – and perished.
On Snow Hill, Nordenskjöld and five crewmen were forced to stay through one long winter, and then another after Antarctic, a vessel sent to retrieve them, was repelled by fierce storms and ice. After the six surviving men were finally rescued by the crew of the Uruguay, no sailing ship managed to reach Snow Hill again for the next century.
The Swedish-led expedition in 2003, named Antarctica Expedition passed through the Beagle Channel, sailed around Cape Horn and further out on the Southern Ocean in the direction of the Shetland Islands. For weeks, the Antarctica Expedition team faced average daily temperatures that plunged to -40°C and were buffeted by stiff headwinds before Snow Hill was in sight.
Upon arrival, they experienced firsthand the hardships and hazardous conditions that Otto Nordenskiöld and his men had endured a century before. Fortunately for members of the Antarctica Expedition, they were able to sail back to Ushuaia without mishap. And by doing so, became the first sailing expedition on record to reach Snow Hill during the past 100 years.
As an important footnote to this new chapter in sailing history, the Antarctica Expedition Team wore the first editions of Sail Racing parkas designed for winter use.
The extreme conditions of the Antarctica proved to be more than an appropriate test chamber for our insulated, technical GORE-TEX garments. In 2004, after a few minor but necessary adjustments to the product, we were able to launch the first item in the Sail Antarctica Expedition collection: The Glacier Bay Parka.
To further our knowledge and processes needed to develop superior garments for winter use, we began a professional collaboration with the skipper of the 2003 Antarctic Expedition Team, Skip Novak. With extensive experience gained from competing in the Whitbread Round the World Race, Volvo Ocean Race and almost 20 years of voyages to Antarctica, we invited Skip and his crew to become members of our Sail Racing Test Team.
To our satisfaction, Skip and his crew came on board. The critical information they provide helps us continue our pursuit in developing what we believe are the finest garments on earth for sailing in the autumn and winter: The Sail Antarctica Expedition collection.