Gareth Morgan: I hope Norwegian sinks
Multi-millionaire Gareth Morgan has caused outrage in Norway by saying he hopes a self-proclaimed Viking explorer sinks in Antarctica and that he will not go to help him if he does.
Morgan has chartered a former Russian ice breaker, Spirit of Enderby, to explore the Ross Sea and is heading to the same area Norwegian Jarle Andhoey, 34, is illegally sailing a 16-metre steel yacht, Nilaya, after he was forced out of Auckland three weeks ago for not having a visa.
Andhoey is trying to reach McMurdo Sound, where last year his yacht Berserk disappeared with the loss of three men. They were lost in a storm while Andhoey and teenager Samuel Massie were on quad bikes trying to drive to the South Pole.
Morgan has told Norwegian media he would not try help Andhoey if he got in trouble.
Asked what response they would have if they saw Nilaya, Morgan replied: "Let it sink. It's about collective responsibility. This cowboy has opted out."
He described Andhoey as "a bottom feeder, a taker of the worst kind".
In a blog, Morgan added: "Let's hope he sinks."
In an email to Norwegian media, passed on by Morgan's staff, the economist also said Andhoey's real mission was to attract as much press as he possibly could and sell books and sponsorships as a result.
"His much publicised rejection of the normal compliance requirements for this latest escapade, including the rejection of an EPRB [emergency locator beacon], is consistent with that objective - making headlines by portraying regulatory requirements as unnecessary showing his commitment to self-reliance."
Asked about the response of the Norway and New Zealand governments to the non-registered trip, Morgan said they needed to either seize the yacht or at least declare they would not rescue him.
"Clearly Andhoey is out to test the resolve of the international agreements that protect Antarctica from the random risks of errant behaviour like his," Morgan said.
Unless action is taken on this case, there will be "50 Andhoey wannabes replicating his disregard for other yachties and the community at large.
"The man clearly thinks he has a right to do what he likes irrespective of the damage he causes others - either via environmental risk or even risks to others' lives."
Morgan said Norway was being toothless over the case.
He believed Andhoey was angry that the three dead crew members had the audacity to let of their EPRB.
"He appears to not give a toss about the amount of hurt he imparts on those who get in the way of his quest for his 'Wild Vikings' brand to attract sponsors and book sales."
Morgan said Andhoey's commercial operation was based on disobeying the law and said there was no evidence of him putting service to humanity in general ahead of that imperative.
"Catching up this week with some of those who have known this guy for over 20 years and have seen him bludging parts and time from other yachtsmen to keep his jalopy on the water, there is a general view the fellow is a bottom feeder, a taker of the worst kind."
Selfish was too kind a word for Andhoey.
"Sadly the numbers of the ignorant and impressionable that populate the discussion boards and chat rooms of the juvenile online community provide sufficient support for Jarle and his ultra-courageous brave Wild Vikings to fund their assault on the common good," Morgan said.
A Norwegian account of Morgan's comments has been posted on Andhoey's Facebook page, prompting an angry reaction.
One comment said: "Captain Morgan destroys his own reputation here in Norway". Another said: "I think this sounds really bad", while one more accuses Morgan of bad seamanship and another questions whether he should use his money to "buy balls".
Today Norway's Dagbladet reports that Andhoey is now at Victoria Land, about 600km north of New Zealand's Scott Base. It reports that he is heading to Franklin Island, which was the agreed meeting place for Berserk last year if something went wrong.
He told the newspaper that last year he told New Zealand authorities about the meeting place but claims they did not search there.
Andhoey has made a number of claims that New Zealand, the US and the Sea Shepherd organisation failed to mount a proper search. The claims have all been denied.