New ‘Kon-Tiki’ expedition sets sail

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A 25-member international team led by Norwegians has set off from Peru to the Easter Islands, re-enacting the famous voyage of fellow Norwegian Thor Heyerdahl. This team, however, also intends to make a round-trip, using two rafts and sailing back again to Peru.

The Kon-Tiki 2 expedition involves two rafts this time, making a round-trip between Peru and the Easter Islands. PHOTO: Kon-Tiki 2

The Kon-Tiki 2 expedition involves two rafts this time, making a round-trip between Peru and the Easter Islands. PHOTO: Kon-Tiki 2

“This is a tribute to Thor Heyerdahl,” Torgeir Higraff, leader of the expedition dubbed Kon-Tiki 2, told Oslo newspaper Aftenposten. “We’re sailing on traditional rafts, but the technology we’re using is top modern.”

Along the way, the team intends to conduct research, measure climate change in and around the ocean, observe ecosystems and prepare reports for the UN climate summit in Paris in December. They’ll be documenting marine life, plastics in the sea, pollution and navigation techniques. And they also intend to prove that not only was it possible for South Americans to sail west to Polynesia, as Heyerdahl demonstrated, but also for Polynesians to sail back to South America.

You can follow along on the expedition by clicking to the expedition’s official website here (external link).

All members of the team have a passion for sailing and experience from other expeditions, not least Liv Arnesen, best known for her treks across the Arctic and Antarctic. She’ll be in charge of passing on knowledge picked up along the way, while Cecilie Mauritzen, an oceanographer and contributor to the UN Climate Panel, leads the researchers. Håkon Wium Lie, technology chief at Oslo-based Opera Software, is responsible for communications technology on board, while Kari Skåre Dahl, captain of the raft Rahiti Tane, normally is the skipper of a search and rescue vessel in Norway, with lengthy maritime experience.

Part of the exedition's crew gathered before they sailed from Peru on Saturday. The voyage is due to take six weeks. PHOTO: Kon-Tiki 2

Part of the exedition’s crew gathered before they sailed from Peru on Saturday. The voyage is due to take six weeks. PHOTO: Kon-Tiki 2

The international team also includes a doctor,  a photographer, engineers, students, boat builders and carpenters from Russia, England, Peru and New Zealand as well as Norway, and a teacher, Øyvind Lauten, who is captain of the other raft, Tupac Yapanqui. The expedition, with a budget of around NOK 8 million, has received funding from Norway’s Foreign Ministry, technology companies including Opera Software and the Thor Heyerdal Institute.

“We want to share the possibilities that can be found in this part of the enormous ocean, but also the damage that’s going on,” Higraff told Aftenposten. The crew gathered in Peru last week and Norway’s ambassador to Chile, Hege Araldsen, was on hand to see them all off over the weekend as they set their course westward.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund