MOON REGAN TRANSANTARCTIC EXPEDITION

Winston Wong | Imperial College London


NEWS

WINSTON WONG BIO-INSPIRED VEHICLE ‘SKATED’ WITH EASE

The reports of awful weather whilst the team were waiting in Punta Arenas became reality right at the start of the Expedition - with horrendous snow conditions at Union Glacier. The Winston Wong Bio-Inspired Ice Vehicle made incredibly light work of the heavy snow conditions out of Patriot Hills yesterday. Whilst the two fully-laden SSVs struggled in the recent snowfall that delayed departure onto the ice, the BIV skated across the top of the surface with ease, the new engine providing plenty of power. Ray Thompson, from Imperial College, managed to get the weather station working, showing an average temperature -16 Celsius and a windchill of nearly -30 Celsius. The Ground Penetrating Radar was deployed in some sections of the route where crevasses were expected and safely guided the vehicles through these potentially hazardous sections of the route.

The team left for Patriot Hills expecting to cross the 100km to the fuel cache in about four hours. After nine punishing hours fighting through the treacherous conditions and just 10 km for our fuel waypoint, Paul, who was piloting the BIV, radioed back to the SSVs for backup. Without warning the BIV, now clear of the deep snow and travelling over the harder sastrugi, lost all steering. SSV2, the lighter and previously more nimble SSV, quickly caught up to him and the
team decided to tow the vehicle a short distance to where the SSV1 team thought it prudent to make camp. Whilst towing the BIV an engine management fault light illuminated in SSV2 and the vehicle suffered reduced power as the team limped to the campsite.

At around 1:30am the team re-grouped and set to work making warm shelter, Vern quickly moving to the kitchen area in the mess tent to prepare some food whilst the mechanics began work on the vehicles. The BIV steering was quickly fixed by Pete Ash and Ray with Andrew Regan looking nervously on, a loose universal joint at the top of the steering column had worked loose in the rough sastrugi. As the team bedded down at 3am, the mechanics continued to work on SSV2 to fix the problem throughout the night.

Waking up to the lovely smell of Vern’s bacon in the icy cold conditions, and with both vehicles now working, the team spirits were high once again at the prospect of resuming the journey to the fuel cache.

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