NEARLY THERE: Intrepid solo Russian rower Fedor Konyukhov is in fine spirits 60 nautical miles off the Sunshine Coast yesterday after being out of contact for 158 days.
NEARLY THERE: Intrepid solo Russian rower Fedor Konyukhov is in fine spirits 60 nautical miles off the Sunshine Coast yesterday after being out of contact for 158 days. Contributed

Russian adventurer rowing straight for the Coast

ALL of Russia has been tuned in to his exploits, but no one has seen extraordinary adventurer Fedor Konyukhov for 158 days, until yesterday.

The trans-Pacific rower is now just 60 nautical miles off the Sunshine Coast at the end of a journey started in Chile on December 22 last year after covering more than 16,800km of open ocean.

His excited son Oscar, sponsors Sergey Eremenko and Evgeny Kryuchkov and a Russian Channel Four film crew yesterday chartered a twin-engine helicopter from McDermott Aviation at Sunshine Coast Airport and flew out to capture the first pictures since he left the Chilean port of Concon.

Mr Konyukhov waved excitedly at his supporters as they hovered overhead.

He has been rowing 18 hours a day with just six off the oars to eat and sleep.

Today boats will leave Mooloolaba Harbour carrying family and friends to go out for a second contact.

Mr Konyukhov is now expected to come ashore about midday tomorrow.

His journey has captured the imagination of the Russian public where he is already a household name.

TV images were beamed back for Russian news.

A 26-minute documentary which will include images of the Sunshine Coast will be shown on Russian television.

Anton Volskiy, UK bureau chief and reporter for Russia's Channel Four, said "Konyukhov" had become synonymous with "adventure" in Russia where everyone knows of his many feats.

"This is a very big story in Russia,'' Volskiy said.

"His name is a brand.''

Volskiy believes Fedor's spirituality is his greatest strength. "To see him you couldn't imagine he was a man of strength,'' he said.

"He's a skinny old man, but he's a priest. You would not think he was a rower. The most important thing is that he is spiritually strong."

Volskiy, who flew to Chile for Fedor's departure on December 22, said the adventurer told him he didn't train and had never trained.

"I think the secret is that he has physical strength from travelling all the time," he said. "He is climbing, skiing, in dog races …. he is trained by adventure.''


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