SAILORS from Thornbury, Yate and Cromhall will embark this weekend on an attempt to become the first British yacht to sail around the North Pole in one season.

The crew of the “Northabout”, which includes Thornbury Sailing Club members Annie Green and John Harvey, from Thornbury, and Dave Cushing, from Yate, as well as Cromhall-based adventurer Hazel Richards, will set sail from Bristol on Sunday to cover 13,500 nautical miles in the Polar Ocean Challenge.

The crew will spend three to four weeks at sea to complete the first leg of the trip, sailing for 24 hours a day and taking turns to man the 48ft purpose-built yacht.

Their journey will see them sail past Scotland and Norway, before handing over to another crew for the second leg off the coast of Siberia.

After the handover, the new team must reach the Northeast Passage before the end of July, when the ice flows will have melted sufficiently to allow access.

Then the clock will really be ticking for them to go around the North Pole and exit via the North West passage before it freezes again, returning back to Bristol in mid-October.

Mrs Green, who is commodore of Thornbury Sailing Club, and wife to Mr Harvey, said: “It is funny how we ended up here, I was asked by Severn Area Rescue to help David in getting the boat to Sharpness, and after speaking to him on the journey, he asked if I wanted to take part.

“The sailing club in Thornbury is looking to sail out to the Baltics next year so this would make for great practice.”

She joked: “My husband is sailing as part of the team with us, so I am hoping for everyone else’s sake that we get along well.”

But not everyone in the group is an experienced sailor. Despite having previously journeyed to the North and South poles on skis, as well as taken part in an expedition through the Gobi desert, this is the first adventure by sea for Mrs Richards.

She said: “As a novice sailor, I am trading in my skis for my sea legs.

“I am excited but have no idea what to expect – but that’s what makes it so fun!”

The expedition, which is being led by explorer David Hempleman-Adams, will also see the launch of new educational charity Wicked Weather Watch, which will help young people learn more about climate change and inspire them to take action.

Wicked Weather Watch will follow the challenge, collecting information, data and personal testimony from the Arctic, feeling it back to schools in the UK as an up-to-date resource on the impact climate change is having on the arctic.

For information on Wicked Weather Watch and to sign up to follow the Polar Ocean Challenge please contact Gill Johnson on or Vicky Oram-Ahern on