Tasman a cruel sea for kayakers

11:26, Jul 11 2014
Olly Hicks
OLLY HICKS: The British explorer set off from Tasmania to circumnavigate Antarctica in his rowboat nicknamed the Flying Carrot.

Scott Donaldson is not alone in being defeated by Mother Nature in a bid to cross the Tasman Sea under his own power.

Anders Svedlund (1969)

The eccentric Swedish sailor, in his 40s at the time, was the first person recorded trying to row across the wild Tasman Sea. He left Onehunga in a 6-metre fibreglass rowing boat he partly built himself, only to capsize five days later, 65 kilometres from shore. After righting his boat, he was swept ashore at the Waikato Heads. Two years on, he became the first person to cross the Indian Ocean alone, rowing from Australia to Madagascar. Eight years after that, he died in his Auckland apartment, apparently after falling from a chair while changing a lightbulb.

Colin Quincey (1977)

The English-born New Zealander became the first person to complete a solo, unassisted trip across the Tasman. He set off from Hokianga in the "Tasman Trespasser", his 6-metre fibreglass dory, arriving on Australia's Sunshine Coast 63 days later. For 33 years he remained the only person to have accomplished the feat until a 25-year old named Shaun Quincey - his son - did it.

Andrew McAuley (2006-2007)


The Australian adventurer first tried to kayak across the ditch in 2006, but turned around after two days due to difficulties keeping warm. He made his second attempt from Tasmania, bound for the Milford Sound. After 30 days at sea and surviving torrid conditions, he disappeared just 56km from his destination. His final message - a scratchy recording pleading for help - was initially dismissed as a hoax. His body has never been found.

Steven Gates, Andrew Johnson, Kerry Tozer and Sally Macready (2007)

The team of Australian rowers conquered the crossing in 34 days. The two men and two women travelled 2200km in their 11-metre custom-built boat, narrowly avoiding collisions with dolphins, sharks, and ships. They left Hokianga Harbour in the Far North and landed in Sydney Harbour, the first Australian team to make the crossing.

Justin Jones and James Castrission (2007-2008)

The Australians became the first to cross the Tasman in a kayak, completing the journey in 60 days. They took off in their dual-fitted craft named "Lot 41" after the legendary racehorse Phar Lap's auction number, from Forster, New South Wales, and landed on Ngamotu beach in New Plymouth. They struggled against strong headwinds, that caused them to spend a number of days paddling in circles. Their thunder was slightly stolen by Gates and his companions, who completed their own voyage just weeks earlier.

Olly Hicks (2009)

British explorer Olly Hicks initially set off from Tasmania to circumnavigate Antarctica in his half million dollar rowboat named "the Flying Carrot". Part-way through the attempt he changed his mind, and headed off to Stewart Island instead. His 95-day quest ended when wild conditions led him to call it a day. He was towed into port by the Shangri la, a Bluff cray-boat, before he headed back to England.

Shaun Quincey (2010)

Rowed his way into the history books, joining his father as the second rower to make a solo crossing of the Tasman. He chose to go the other way to his dad - leaving the New South Wales coast, shooting for 90 Mile Beach in the Far North. The gruelling 53-day ordeal, in which he faced capsizes, broken equipment, and even a collision with a sperm whale, required him to row 1700km more than planned.

Team Gallagher (2011-2012)

A crew of four New Zealand men decided to row harbour bridge to harbour bridge - Sydney to Auckland. They spent 59 days, twice as long as planned, in the Moana, their 10-metre rowing boat. The crew, which included the son of Sir Peter Blake, endured food spoilage, blisters, and a broken rudder, before they safely arrived in Auckland Harbour.

Scott Donaldson (2013-2014)

Donaldson, 44, originally from Rotorua, set off from Coffs Harbour in New South Wales for for Port Taranaki on April 19. The bold plan was inspired by a desire to raise awareness of the need for physical activity, in partnership with the New Zealand Asthma Foundation. He made a similar attempt in 2013, which was aborted after two days when his kayak filled with water. His second attempt was planned to take between 50 and 70 days, but nearly three months in, and only 83km from shore, he had to abandon his mission after suffering injuries when his kayak rolled three times during calamitous weather. If he had made it, he would have been the first person to kayak solo across the Tasman.