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Southern Ocean rowing bid to start in Dunedin

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A Russian adventurer's latest round-the-world odyssey is to begin, and hopefully end, in Dunedin.

Explorer and Orthodox priest Fedor Konyukhov will fly in to the city on Monday, to prepare for his world record attempt to row the Southern Ocean, and then round the world.

He hopes to start sea trials of his British-built, 9m-long ocean rowing boat Akros next Wednesday and Thursday.

Mr Konyukhov (66), who is also an accomplished environmentalist, author and artist, will depart in the boat later in the month.

Akros is scheduled to arrive in Christchurch by ship, and will be trucked to Port Chalmers early next week.

Mr Konyukhov has circumnavigated the world four times, twice by sail boat, and twice by hot air balloon, has crossed the Atlantic 15 times, climbed Everest twice and is the only person to have reached the earth's five ``extreme poles''.

After a world-first success in rowing from Chile to Australia without stopping in 2014, he is again seeking to make history.

To date, no successful rowboat attempt had been made to cross the Southern Ocean and round Cape Horn.

The decision to leave from Dunedin reflected several factors, including that its position, in relation to Cape Horn, allowed a direct and comfortable route to be taken, he said.

Nevertheless, he will face challenging conditions, including many icebergs large and small, and howling winds in the Southern Ocean.

Mr Konyukhov said he had also been attracted to Dunedin by its connection with albatrosses, which are often his companions during long Southern Ocean passages.

He had heard about Dunedin because of the Royal Albatross Centre and ``for me the albatross is a symbolic bird, always in the air, always where the strong winds are'', he said.

The project has been brought to fruition with the help of Enterprise Dunedin's business relationship manager Des Adamson, who had been liaising with Mr Konyukhov's project team since April.

Helping with preparations had been a collaborative Dunedin approach, and with the help of local supporters, equipment storage space and accommodation had been organised for the project team, Mr Adamson said.

The first of three legs of the round-the-world rowing trip is about 10,200km long and is expected to take about 120 days.

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