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EDITIONS
 Thursday, 2 January, 2003, 15:11 GMT
Ill wind for Antarctic adventure
Ski-buggy on trial in Switzerland
A lack of wind left the men stranded
An expedition by two men to cross the Antarctic using kite-powered ski-buggies has failed.

Brian Cunningham, from Bolton, Greater Manchester, Bolton, and Jamie Young, who is from the Republic of Ireland, were planning to complete a 650-mile (1,000-km) journey in a week to 10 days.

But the lack of wind left the pair stranded at the South Pole.

Mr Cunningham, who was speaking from the South Pole on Thursday, said it was hugely disappointing.

Jamie and Bryan (right)
Both men are in their 50s

"All the statistics that we had looked at for the winds indicated that we would have strong enough winds to move us and regular and reliable winds as well," he said.

"When we got here we found it has been an unusually calm year and so we have been waiting patiently for the wind and not getting it.

"We are very disappointed indeed to have let down our sponsors, our families, and all the people who have supported us to get us this far."

The men were attempting to cross the remote snowy landscapes in the kite-powered ski-buggies, designed by Formula One racing engineer, Kieron Bradley, and capable of speeds in excess of 50 mph (80 kilometres per hour).

With conventional sledges, it would take six times as long.

The low-slung buggies weigh just 75 pounds (34 kilograms), and run on specially adapted skis.

ICE KITE FACTS
Speed: 50mph-plus

Weight: 75 pounds

Power: Range of five kites of different sizes

Specially adapted skis
Driver 20 inches from ground

The men had five different kites ranging in size from two to 10 square metres, to cope with varying wind conditions.

Brian Cunningham, aged 59, began his adventuring career in 1967 by yachting to Iceland and back.

Also a mountaineer and ice climber, last year he completed a challenging dog-sledding expedition on Canada's Baffin Island in temperatures below -40C.

In 1981, he was the first to run Britain's 90-mile West Highland Way in less than 24 hours.

He is now a visiting professor at Manchester Business School.

Jamie Young, aged 50, has competed in a transatlantic single-handed yacht race, led a kayaking expedition to Guinea Bissau and paddled around Cape Horn.

In 1997, he was part of a team of Irishmen who re-enacted Sir Ernest Shackleton's famous 1915 trip in a seven-metre lifeboat from Elephant Island to South Georgia in the Southern Ocean.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  BBC NI's Shane Glynn:
"They had intended to travel 650 miles"

Click here to go to Manchester
BBC science correspondent Christine McGourty reports from Antarctica


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See also:

16 Dec 02 | England
21 Nov 02 | England
26 Sep 02 | Science/Nature
21 Oct 02 | England
14 Oct 02 | Scotland
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