WELLINGTON, March 3, 2011 (AFP) - - Norwegian adventurer Jarle Andhoy rejected criticism Thursday of his ill-fated mission to Antarctica and said he clung to hope the three crewmen missing from his yacht will be found.
"There is still a little hope as no evidence of (a) sunken ship is found," he said in a statement, adding he strongly rejected "all criticism which is not based on facts" about the expedition.
Andhoy and Samuel Massie were travelling across Antarctic by quad bike heading to the South Pole when their support vessel with three crew on board disappeared in a fierce storm.
Sea and air searches have only found the boat's damaged and ice-encrusted liferaft.
New Zealand rescue officials, responsible for searches in the area, have said there is no hope of finding survivors.
Antarctica New Zealand chief executive Lou Sanson said the 48-foot (14-metre) sailboat The Berserk was in Antarctic waters at one of the coldest times of the year and when the area was prone to fierce storms.
"At this time of year we close the (Antarctic) bases for a very good reason," he said.
But Andhoy said in a statement the disappearance of the vessel was a mystery as shortly before its emergency beacon was activated the captain had "reported of a happy ship".
He said they were equipped to be self-sufficient in all climates and conditions with security and safety a priority.
20110301 - UPDATE
Norwegian sailors defend Antarctic expedition as hopes fade for three crew mates feared dead following ferocious storm
The two survivors of a controversial Norwegian sailing expedition to the South Pole, in which three crew are missing, presumed dead, have defended their journey.
Jarle Andhoy, 34, and his 18-year-old companion Samuel Massie spoke of their ordeal after being airlifted from Antarctica to Christchurch by a United States Operation Deep Freeze flight.
They had trekked for a week to a U.S. base at McMurdo Sound, but three other members of the Wild Viking expedition are believed to have perished in the Southern Ocean after their 14-metre vessel, named Berserk, disappeared.
Survivors: Jarle Andhoy (left) and Samuel Massie spoke of their ordeal after they were airlifted to Christchurch when their quad bike expedition to the South Pole was hit by disaster
Among the missing is Leonard J. Banks, 32, who holds dual British and South African citizenship, alongside Norwegians Tom Gisle Bellika, 36, and Robert Skaanes, 34.
The five members of crew had embarked on their journey to follow in the footsteps of legendary Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen earlier this month
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1361481/Hopes-fade-British-Norwegian-sailors-missing-Antarctica-ferocious-storm.html#ixzz1FO5bxar7
(By Jon Amtrup) Berserk’s life raft has been found, but still no sign of the three people aboard the Norwegian sailing yacht. The raft was pretty beat up. Sea Shepherd searched the whole area and are convinced that there are no survivors. The skipper and one of the crew are racing towards the coast in two ATV's.
The life raft was discovered 45 miles north of the position where the distress signal was issued and is consistent with the drift and wind.
- The life raft was unoccupied, half filled with water, encrusted with ice and the canopy had been clearly torn half off by strong winds. Sea conditions at the time of the recovery were ideal – glassy waters, no swell, clear skies, and excellent visibility, writes Sea Shepherd in a press release. The Steve Irwin has searched the area for 24 hours with dinghy's, helicopter and the ship. Captain Paul Watson is convinced that the three people on board the Berserk are ”lost at sea sea and the recovery of their bodies is very unlikely.”
- All indications are that Berserk has sunk and that it sank very quickly. The conditions at the time were extremely high winds, extremely low temperatures, very heavy seas, and numerous and very dangerous growlers, says Watson on their homepage.
No other debris from the missing yacht has been found which could be a good sign for the crew. The raft could have been ripped off the boat during the bad weather and deployed in the water.
The three missing are two Norwegians Robert Skaanes (34), and Tom Gisle Bellika (36), and South-African Leonard J. Banks (32).
The Steve Irwin will continue the search Friday but that’s it. They are the only ship searching the area.
Meanwhile Berserk skipper Jarle Andhøy (33) and his crew Samuel Massie (18) are racing towards the McMurdo base on two belt driven ATV’s (All Terrain Vehicle).
The purpose of the expedition was according to Andhøy: "Berserk is under sail towards the South Pole to reconquer the pole 100 years after Roald Amundsen. The expedition started in fall 2009 from the top of the world (Northwest Passage ed.) and will be completed at the bottom by the “Pizzageneration” that are crewing the Berserk. The Berserk crew will try to follow in the footsteps of those who built Norway; war sailors, whale hunters and polar explorers. They all grew up in a much harder reality than our generation is living in today."
Jarle Andhøy and crew sailed down the west coast of America and over to New Zealand before setting off to the Ross Sea in Antarctica. Once there they reassembled the two belt driven ATV’s they had stored on board during the crossing. The plan was that Andhøy and Massie should drive to the South Pole, but they didn’t get far before the news about the missing Berserk reached them.
About charter yacht Berserk
Skipper Jarle Andhøy has been to Antarctica before, then in a 27-foot sailing boat. A high profile sailor in Norway, Andhøy has appeared on several TV shows and in the news. He was fined and sentenced in Norway for trying to ”talk to the Polar Bears” on Svalbard.
Accused of smuggling a crew member who had been sent out of the country on charges of being a Hells Angel, on his last trip through the Northwest Passage Canadian authorities cuffed Jarle Andhøy and flew him back home to Norway.
BERSERK web home page: http://www.wildvikings.com/ AND http://www.berserk-expeditions.com/