Kayaker seeks to become the first to paddle the ditch
HE WAS winched to safety after 84 days at sea in 2014, but kiwi adventurer Scott Donaldson will take off from Coffs Harbour in attempt to become the first person to kayak from Australia to New Zealand solo.
Hopefully it will be second time lucky for Scott, a former soccer coach on the Coffs Coast, who previously came incredibly close to landfall in Taranaki when heavy winds forced him to abandon the mission.
After paddling half the Tasman with an unrepairable rudder and sitting in a once in 40-year storm while 80km off the coast of New Zealand, Scott's protocol dictated it was unsafe to continue.
But now, when NZ weather guru Bob McDavitt gives the word sometime in March or April, Scott, 47, will set off on his 2,200km journey from Coffs Harbour to Taranaki.
"This time around it's about that last 80 kilometres that didn't get done last time, it's about finishing the job off," he said.
"There is still a lot of water to cover before we get to that point, but it's about the challenge. No one has done it solo by kayak before."
Scott is a former athlete in multisport, triathlon, cross country and adventure racing and represented NZ in several including the Commonwealth games in triathlon.
For 12 years, he owned a coaching business that centred on swimming. That expanded to various sports, particularly endurance and "outside the box" events.
"I've coached people to do various crazy things such as the Cook Strait swim and ultradistance running and cycling. It's time to put those coaching theories to an extreme test."
"This kayak attempt was fairly obvious to me as I've got the skill set to do it. There have been 15 attempts in the past, which have all finished in various forms of failure from the worst type through to my last attempt which got very close."
Once he sets off, Scott said his biggest hurdle will be Mother Nature.
"The tricky part of the Tasman is the weather. You generally get two days of good progress followed by two to four days of the Tasman trying to push you back."
If weather conditions are favourable, Scott aims to paddle for about 16 hours a day.
Though he will be alone communication is by satellite phone with his shore team, with text messages exchanged from weatherman McDavitt and daily check-ins with his team leader Nigel Escott at base.
With design improvements made to his boat from the original craft, Scott's new vessel has a length of 6.3m and 0.76m wide, is half the weight and has a bigger cabin for extra comfort and shelter.
During the attempt, he will initially burn roughly 11,000 calories per day, but his body is expected to become more efficient at around 6,000 calories. He will get his nutrition via a mixture of protein shakes and Radix dehydrated food. Drinking water is from a small desalinator - a device that makes clean drinking water from seawater.
An asthma sufferer, Scott has teamed up with Asthma New Zealand to raise awareness of the condition.