Solo trans-Tasman crossing a first

Congratulations Scott Donaldson, the mad kiwi who yesterday completed the first ever solo kayak crossing of the Tasman Sea, from Coffs Harbour in New South Wales, Australia, to Ngāmotu Beach, New Plymouth, New Zealand.

The crossing is a ridiculous sounding 2200 kilometer paddle which apparently featured huge swells, an aggressive shark and a storm that blew him back towards Australia. This isn't his first crack at the crossing either – his first attempt was back in 2014 – and ended just 80km from shore thanks to a massive storm and a broken rudder.

You would think one terrifying attempt would be enough, but he's obviously a determined bugger and made the crossing stick this time – all to raise awareness of asthma – a condition both he and his son suffer from (his son was admitted to hospital with asthma just hours after his arrival yesterday).

Back in 2014, not long after that first attempt, I stumbled on his kayak in central Auckland. It was sitting on a trailer outside a city pub, looking more than a bit out of place. I had my sketchbook with me so knocked out this quick sketch. I was surprised by how small and narrow the kayak was, it looked so tiny, a lot like a regular surf ski but with a bubble on top.

I was also surprised 15 minutes into my sketch when Scott appeared from the pub to hook the kayak onto the back of his ute. We chatted briefly while I sketched before he drove it away for a school visit.

I managed this bloody awful attempt at a portrait of him before he departed – not my best work – but hey, he was in a hurry!


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