Last year we had two Norwegians (successfully) trying to sail both the Northern Sea Route and the Northwestern Passage in one single season. This year we have two Frenchmen who are taking things a step further. According to the Fairbanks Daily:
Two French adventurers are about to embark on a journey over the top of the world, if everything goes to plan. Sébastien Roubinet and Rodolphe André and a small support team are traveling north to Deadhorse after making a brief stop to enjoy the amenities of Fairbanks. Once there, they hope to gain permission from the administrators of the Prudhoe Bay oil field to launch their two-man catamaran into the Arctic Ocean with the goal of crossing the North Pole and ultimately reaching the Norwegian island of Spitsberg in the Svalbard Archipelago, roughly halfway between the North Pole and mainland Norway.
Yes, you read that right: Across the North Pole. And they propose to do it with this very light 200 kg catamaran, the ti-Babouche, which they tested out a few weeks back in Quebec:
They're going to sail over the ice floes, rather than between them. A smart move, I'd say.
This whole expedition is in itself interesting enough as it is, but there's more. Roubinet and André are taking some instruments with them, such as an electromagnetic sonde, that will continuously measure the thickness of the floes under and next to them.There's a meteorological station as well, and a video camera to record the way the surface of the ice looks. They are supported by several cryospheric scientists, some of whom will use this data to further calibrate CryoSat-2 measurements.
All in all an expedition well worth keeping an eye on. If everything goes according to plan they'll be leaving on July 5th. Bonne chance, les mecs!