by Iléana Bonnet-Conroy
Why do you sail? Is it to race or explore? When many of us think about sailing we envisage racing days with winners – but winning isn’t for everyone, some of us just want to feel the elements and explore mother nature in the most intimate way. Magne Klann (adventurer and Guinness World Record holder) embarked on a challenge to sail from Norway’s most northern point, deep inside the Arctic Circle, to the most southern tip! Covering over 1000 nautical miles over 48 days surrounded by beautiful landscapes, Magne chose the RS Aero as his companion. We spoke to Magne to find out more about his adventure…
Why the challenge?
Everybody dreams of doing something big and adventurous when they’re a child, and most of the time we have these incredible thoughts that only stay with us for a moment. Magne has always enjoyed camping, being outdoors and exploring nature through adventures, seeking to “create something safe in the unsafe”. The idea came to Magne while he was doing a similar challenge in a lodger boat, it got him thinking about whether it would be possible to do it in a dinghy boat? With the idea coming and going over the next few months, he finally decided to throw himself into the adventure and in some ways, achieve a childhood dream of his of being at one with nature.
Why the RS Aero?
Of course, this was not a challenge to take lightly – there was much preparation to do including finding the right dinghy. After careful consideration, the deciding factor for choosing the RS Aero was when he discovered an English journalist effortlessly carrying it on its side, a convenient element when launching and recovering solo. Not to mention, the RS Aero encompasses easy handling, simple rigging and an exciting experience! Durable, maintenance-free and multi-functional (makes for a decent shelter), it’s a great single-hander for adventures! It was a no brainer! With full support and enthusiasm from Sail Adventure (RS Norway), Magne continued to plan and prepare for the trip of a lifetime!
Day One: Expect the Unexpected
Launching with Little Faith
On the first day there was still snow and the temperature was around 2°C both in and out of the water. As Magne was preparing to launch in a nearby harbour, he met a fisherman who gave him some tips on how to navigate the fjords and a little insight into what was waiting for him past the North Cape which lay ahead. Of course, this was helpful, but fear, uncertainty and a little bit of panic came over Magne as the fisherman shared that someone had tried it before but had unfortunately passed away on the other side in the Barents Sea… The waters are notorious for currents and dangerous waves, so the fisherman advised him to stay about 1 nautical mile from the 300m tall cliffs of the North Cape.
As an experienced sailor, Magne knew there were going to be challenged like the wind, rain, cold and exhaustion, but out of all 48, the hardest day was the first day. He describes it as “fantastic, emotional and very scary”. The goal was to sail at 5 knots/30 nautical miles a day, but things weren’t looking promising – what was supposed to take an hour took three and a half! All the planning and effort that had gone into the challenge so far was starting to become futile as he felt dreams inching away from him the longer he spent motionless. At least the views were phenomenal, along the coast, he could see puffins, orcas and seals but one thing he definitely wasn’t expecting was a wet, circling roar! About a boat length or two away from Magne and his Aero a 25 metre long, 80-ton fin whale popped out to say hello! Embracing the moment (jaw dropped and in awe), it sprayed water into the peaceful atmosphere of Skarsvag. As it soared out from the stillness Magne could see all the details of its sandy, brown belly. A moment which was an incredible sight – but an equally frightening one! With no wind and worn off adrenaline, it felt the same as “seeing land when you don’t want to see it”. Completely shocked, he was aware that within minutes he could be catapulted away with the flick of its tail, luckily it remains “a truly memorable, fantastic experience of nature”.
With his nerves still outside of his body and after hours of being alone with nothing but his mind, he found it difficult to stay positive and optimistic about the rest of the adventure – endlessly thinking of reasons he could quit and giving in to his negative thoughts. One of the most challenging moments which triggered panic was when the current was against him and a 1-hour leg took 4. With no sight of shore, it was starting to seem unachievable and silly. The seriousness and severity of the challenge started to become clear. Despite having 437 pins on his map of places he could recover, the closest one was 4 hours away! A depressing notion and not something any of us would want to hear when you’re ready to hunker down for the night. On the verge of giving up, he accidentally found a small island where he could stopover. This good fate was down to more luck than judgement and created a lot of worry and uneasiness that he hadn’t sufficiently planned. All night his mental demons kept finding excuses and motives to give up, it was a long night for sure. The next morning, he woke with less enthusiasm and zest and for his quest. It is true, our biggest barrier is our mind and it’s easy to spiral into a negative mindset of “I can’t do this” over and over again. If you keep telling yourself you can’t, then you’ll never know if you can. Here Magne was, dreading the upcoming days until he remembered what a famous polar explorer once said, “when you think you have to quit, you think you have to make the decision there and then”. To overcome this negative mindset, Magne fooled himself by constantly telling himself “maybe I should quit, but not today”. This changed his mindset completely, and he now adopts this in every part of life! From that day, he felt much more positive and eager to endure the challenge. His belief? “When you’re at the limit of what you can do, keep going just a little bit because you will learn something about yourself”.
Adventure or Racing?
You don’t have to do something extreme for it to be fun, sailing is a whole package:
- Exploring nature
- Understanding different weathers and climates
- Feeling the elements
- Learning how to be on top of everything
- Being prepared for all eventualities
- Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone
Magne believes that many people think sailing is ‘racing or nothing’ but it’s great to experience and share with people around you! You don’t have to be cold, uncomfortable or camp in order to push yourself – just being outdoors with a beer and campfire after a day of exploring is great fun! It was a month and a half long challenge, but it never got boring! If you think you can’t do something, it’s all in your head. Yes, you might be nervous about trying and things can take longer than expected; but like Magne, if you think you might not finish it you just have to keep going. Never see anything as a failure – the fact you even tried something is success in itself, embrace the little moments because the big ones are few and far between. If you’re thinking of trying something like this here are some pearls of wisdom from Magne himself:
- Take it seriously and don’t just do it because you’re a daredevil
- Respect the weather
- Respect the climate
- Don’t sail outside of your capabilities BUT
- Push yourself within your ability
Getting into sailing right now might be difficult because of COVID restrictions, but if you are able to plan or somehow get involved, just do it! Sailing is perfect for getting your head up, lifting moods and getting outdoors. Nature really is the best medicine, it makes problems feel smaller, you can feel nature’s energy around you, and it can change your outlook on things (big or small). We encourage you to venture within your own capabilities! Magne now lives in Norway capturing moments and writing about his experiences in the world’s biggest playground, nature. He also looks forward to competing in the next European RS Aero Regatta with the very same boat he took on this wild adventure.
Want to find out more?
If you want to find out more about Magne and his adventure, he has a book (available in Norwegian) with photos from his expedition. Click here to buy it now! #norgeombabord