South African lady sailor to return from North Pole sail attempt

Johannesburg, South Africa. August 2018 – Canon South Africa has commended South African sailor and photographer Lungi Mchunu, for her brave attempt to become the first African woman to sail to the North Pole. The expedition has unfortunately been cut short after terrific storms damaged the crew’s wooden boat.

Forced to abandon the historic expedition, Mchunu is on her way back home. Though disappointed about not reaching the North Pole, Mchunu remains steadfast in her commitment to use the information and photographs she gathered to raise awareness of climate change amongst the youth. They were 1200km away from reaching the pole which is approximately five days of sailing, when the storm hit.

Mchunu will use film and photographs she took using a Canon EOS 77D camera, courtesy of Canon South Africa, to ‘paint’ a picture of the impact of human behavior on the planet. She wants to customize the story for her African audience. She is hoping to have her manuscript for a children’s book complete by October this year. Mchunu also plans on conducting talks on climate change at schools, companies and non-profit organisations when she returns to South Africa in September.

“It’s unfortunate that we didn’t reach our destination but we achieved a lot. We reached a number of milestones and this is not the end but merely a lesson,” says Mchunu of herself and her multinational crew comprising of an Italian, Australian, Brit, Czech, German, Irishman and South African.

Since their boat was ravaged in a storm near Longyearbyen, the crew has been off the grid in the mountains doing some land based sampling with no equipment.

“We may not have reached our goal this time. But it has not dampened my spirits at all. In fact, I’m more determined than ever before. I have learnt so much and I have had the privilege of walking on untouched land and breathing unpolluted air.

So, I now know the difference and I will continue to learn and raise awareness so that future generations will have that privilege too.”

Mchunu’s expedition started at Rostock in Germany in July this year. The plan was to sail from there to the North Pole and back again. Had she been successful, she would have been the first African women to sail to the North Pole.

The crew was struck by severe storms in the seas off Longyearbyen, Norway and had to be rescued by helicopter. The boat was brought to shore at Longyearbyen but unfortunately there is no boat yard and no expertise in the town to repair wooden boats.

Time has now run out for Mchunu and her crew as the summer season is now over and the ice has started to form.

“We are inspired by Mchunu and her crew to firstly attempt the sail to the North Pole, and secondly, their bold efforts to salvage the expedition. We are equally heartened by her never-say-die attitude and look forward to hearing about her next attempt to be the first African woman to sail to the unforgiving terrain of the North Pole. We hope to be part of it when she does,” says Dana Eitzen, Corporate and Marketing Communications Executive, Canon SA.

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