30th December 2004 - a new world record was set - 22 days from South Pole to Hercules Inlet - ski-sailing by a woman explorer from an equatorial country, Sharifah Mazlina Syed Abdul Kadir.
Born in May 1965, Datin Paduka Sharifah Mazlina is a lecturer at the Faculty of Sports Science and Recreation, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UITM). A graduate of McGill University in Montreal, Canada with a Masters in Education (Psychology), Datin Paduka Sharifah Mazlina holds an Honours Degree in Physical Education from University PUTRA Malaysia. She is currently doing her PhD in Sports Psychology in UITM.
The Journey began when Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohammed issued a challenge on 26th May 2003 to all Malaysians to conquer the Antartic immediately after he and his entourage returned from their visit to the coldest land on earth.
Having heard the challenge and after doing months of research, a sport science lecturer from UITM, Sharifah Mazlina Syed Abd Kadir, decided to have a go. Sharifah's intention was first met with a lot of skepticisms. However, after one and a half years of preparation, which saw her self-financing a mini expedition just to prove her ability, Sharifah finally embarked on an expedition that was beyond expectation.
The historic expedition began on 9th December 2004 at the South Pole. After planting the Malaysian Time Capsule and a copy of the Quran, Sharifah started her journey to set a world record.
The distance from the South Pole to Hercules Inlet is 1,100 km and Sharifah was given 30 days to complete the expedition.
Throughout the journey, she endured extremely cold weather (-60ºC), snow storms, violent katabatik winds, no wind situation, sastrugies, injuries and loneliness to finally arrive at GPS location S79º 58.58' W80º 13.67' in a record time of 22 days on 30th December 2004.
The Antartic is the coldest, windiest and driest continent on earth. The weather, strong winds and brutal storms have been synonymous with the Antartic since its discovery and continue to be a major challenge for modern explorers. In the winter, the lowest recorded temperatures (without wind chill) have reached -89ºC (-129ºF). The continent averages 2.9 km (1.5 miles) above sea level, making it 1.5km (almost a mile) higher the global average land height. Each year, the South Pole receives less than an inch of water in the form of snow. This amount of precipitation is similar to that of the Sahara. Katabatic winds, reaching up to 300 km per hour (185 miles per hour), blow out of the continental interior, making the Antartic coastal regions rather stormy.
95 years ago, Norwegian explorer Roald Engelbregt Gravning Amundsen became the first man to conquer the South Pole. 93 years later, Sharifah Mazlina Syed Abdul Kadir stood at the same spot to start her journey across the Antartic be ski-sailing. The historic expedition began on 9th December 2004. 22 days later, she reached her destination and set a world record for being the fastest.
Datin Paduka Sharifah Mazlina Syed Abdul Kadir ski-sailed across the Antartic. The method of ski sailing across the Antartic is relatively new. The sail only works at optimum levels when there is wind. The wind has to come from behind the expeditor who then steers the sail from a bar attached to it by strings. The sail used during the expedition varied from 3 metres to 27 metres.