A TEAM of Russian extreme sports athletes and sailors left the country yesterday after a brief stopover on their mission to become the first to circumnavigate the globe on an inflatable vessel.
As well, the crew of the catamaran Energy Diet are aiming to sail into the Guinness World Records if their mission succeeds.
The catamaran, with a crew of four, departed the Royal Suva Yacht Club last night after a scheduled stop in Suva.
Captain Anatoly Kulik said their voyage started in Brazil in March and would end in Thailand early next year. The team has visited over 20 countries and passed the 11,000-mile mark when they anchored at the yacht club.
The entire voyage is estimated to cover a distance of over 35,000 kilometres. This is not the first time the crew has attempted such a feat.
A number of previous attempts had failed as a result of damage to the 12x5m wind-powered vessel. Evgeny Kovalevsky, another crew member said sailing on the catamaran, which has inflated pontoons, into the record books would be an achievement.
Prior to arriving here, they had visited Tahiti, Cook Islands and Tonga .
Mr Kovalevsky said with each stop they had shared the knowledge of Pacific voyaging with their hosts.
"In Tahiti and in Rarotonga we met people involved in activities to recover the ancient art of sailing, and they showed us their wooden canes, they were trying to recover their history of traditional sailing," Mr Kovalevsky said.
"When they saw that there were other people who thought and did things like them, they were greatly encouraged."
Captain Kulik said since the craft could be dismantled, this voyage showed that it could be used in rescue missions at sea.
"If there is a catastrophe somewhere at sea, then the vessel can be flown there in pieces, put together and used for the rescue," he said.