Paddler doubts kayak will be found

Last updated 05:00 17/07/2014
Scott Donaldson
LANDLUBBER: Scott Donaldson still hopes he will find his kayak, but he isn’t holding his breath.

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Scott Donaldson is losing hope that the kayak in which he spent 84 days at sea will be recovered.

The craft, which he abandoned last week, was last sighted northwest of the base of Farewell Spit on Tuesday.

Donaldson, 44, said there was a small possibility it would land on Farewell Spit, but otherwise it was likely to get pummelled on rocks or end up in Antarctica.

"I'm not holding my breath," he told a crowd of about 90 people that had gathered at the New Plymouth District Council chambers for a question-and-answer session last night about his trans-Tasman attempt.

Donaldson said the kayak was spotted from the air on Tuesday. However, by the time his boat reached the transmitter beacon, about five hours later, the device had broken from the kayak, which was nowhere to be seen. He spent another few hours looking for it again yesterday morning.

Taupo rescue pilot John Funnell, who had spotted the kayak, said it had probably sunk. He said it was on its side and taking on water when he saw it on Tuesday, and Donaldson said he'd left its door open a crack when he was picked up by the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter on Friday, after suffering injuries when the kayak rolled in nasty weather.

In an hour-long session, curious folk were able to ask the kayaker questions about the journey, which saw him battling eight-metre waves, salt sores and shark sightings.

"What possessed you to do this?" one man asked.

Donaldson said he had spent time working on motivating athletes and it was time he put his money where his mouth was, but he wanted a challenge he couldn't do in just two weeks. "You bite off more than you can chew and you chew faster. I enjoy that. I found a challenge that beat me," he said.

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