Trials with the 1st "polar catamaran", before 1 st  Greenland Expedition

Tests with the 1st “polar
catamaran”, before 1 st
Greenland Expedition










The first trial on the WindSled takes place at the beginning of August 2000, on a journey of 600 km (372.82  mi) in Greenland, leaving Narsarssuaq and ending up in Kangerlussuaq. The expedition, sponsored by “At the Edge of the Impossible” TV Program will last ten days and incorporate two additional teams in other vehicles, at the moment named “polar catamarans”.

The four members of the expedition (Ramón Larramendi, Juan Manuel Naranjo, Juanito Oyarzábal and Juan Vallejo) and all  their equipment is transferred by helicopter to the Inlandsis glacier at 2800 m (9186.35 ft) in altitude. Each “catamaran” weighs about 450 kg (992 lb) and measures about 450 cm (177.17 in) long by 2 m (6.56 ft) wide. On the first day, the expeditionary managed to navigate up to 30 km (18.64 mi) / h, but then kite breakage problems arose and the ropes used to handle them became real tangles. Two catamarans are separated taking hours to find as they were in the midst of a blizzard that placed them on standby for three days. Thus, they decide to progress all in one catamaran to prevent further separations.

Although continuously having to stop to sew kites or untangle the ropes, a strong south-north wind allows them to complete distances of 60, 70 and up to 90 km (55.92 mi) a day on very flat land with no major cracks or obstacles. The last day they cover 160 km (99.41 mi) within a ten hour navigation period, a real flight showing its capabilities, but also making the expeditionary aware of the dangers concerning speed.

The journey reveals some problems that had not been detected in Canada nor the Pyrenees. That is, to improve the quality of kites to avoid rips, to maintain a pilot position that avoids back injury given the force of the wind, to use the same tent that goes on the sled to sleep and that both the catamaran and its controls should be larger, among other minor issues. Therefore, it was decided to cancel the journey for that same fall, to Antarctica which hovered in the heads of Larramendi and the team from “At the Edge of the Impossible” TV program. It was imperative to develop a better technique.

Finally, the four explorers, ten days after departure, are picked up by a helicopter in Kangerlussuaq on the west coast of Greenland.

In short, the expedition has traveled 600 km (372.82 mi) in thirty two hours of effective travel, an average of 20 km (12.42 mi) / hour which represented a revolution in polar travel throughout the world: a distance covered of 92 km (57.16 mi) in three hours. It has also shown that while one of the crew handles kites, the other can relax in the tent placed at the back of the catamaran or WindSled. This facilitates taking turns piloting the vehicle when having to progress long stages because the wind is blowing in the right direction.

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