Kayaker pulls out of trans-Tasman crossing

By Natsumi Penberthy | July 11, 2014

After almost three months at sea, with only days to go, kayaker Scott Donaldson pulls out of his trans-Tasman crossing.

KAYAKER SCOTT DONALDSON has abandoned his attempt to become the first person to kayak from Australia to New Zealand solo, within days of reaching his goal.

After more than 80 days at sea, the Kiwi kayaker has been trapped in a storm all week, and last night his kayak flipped three times in high winds. During this ordeal he suffered injuries to his face and chest.

It’s reported his injuries are not life-threatening, but wind conditions are expected to worsen. And with winds gusting up to 100km/h, it’s been deemed unsafe to continue. 

A helicopter rescue has been dispatched from the North Island’s city of New Plymouth, and will pick Scott up roughly 80km off of New Zealand’s north-western coast late this afternoon.  

The challenge of a Tasman crossing by kayak 

The father-of-one was upbeat in the days leading up to this decision as he reported tough conditions and drifted backwards. 

See Wednesday’s report HERE.

This stretch of water has been crossed solo just twice before and then it was by rowers. And, as Scott stressed in the lead up to his departure, the nature of a kayak paddle combined with the narrowness of kayak crafts, means they are less stable than rowboats.

Rolling out of his kayak while attempting the exact same feat claimed the life of well-known Australian adventurer Andrew McAuley, just over 50km off the New Zealand coast in 2007. 

New Zealand’s fatal shore

Justin Jones and James Castrission successfully kayaked across the Tasman Sea in 2008. 

The last 150km is particularly tricky, says Justin, who along with James paddled into the same general coastline that Scott is battling now. 

“The depth kicks up from 1-2km deep to a few hundred metres, 50-100kms off the coast, and you can have issues with standing waves and erratic patterns, especially with bad weather,” he says. 

“We’re so gutted for him,” says Justin. “So close, but good on him for making the attempt and for making a sensible, but tough, call.”