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Journey across the Tasman was to be a world for asthma

July 2014
Media release

Solo kayaker’s journey across the Tasman was to be a world first for asthma

On the 19th of April, Scott Donaldson left Coffs Harbour, on a mission to be the first person to kayak across the Tasman Sea alone. 83 days into his mission, today Scott contacted the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre for a rescue, while positioned halfway between Port Taranaki and the South Island.

Weather conditions over the last week have been particularly challenging and, last night, winds of up to 100kn/hr churned the sea to such an extent that Scott’s kayak rolled, causing injuries to his face and neck.

Asthma New Zealand was the organisation Scott had chosen to align with for this challenge. Executive Director, Linda Thompson today said, “We are gutted to receive the heartbreaking news about Scott Donaldson’s rescue so close to the end of his trans-tasman crossing. We can’t imagine the emotional turmoil he’s been going through in the recent weather conditions, but are pleased to hear he’s OK and recuperating now with his family.”

Both Linda Thompson and asthma Nurse Educator, Karen Little, were poised to make the trip down to Taranaki from Auckland to join Scott’s friends and family in the welcome party. “We were going to head down in the asthma bus, our mobile clinic, to offer advice and information to the local community as they celebrate Scott’s safe return,” adds Linda.

Despite today’s outcome, Asthma New Zealand is proud to be aligned with Scott’s attempt. “We are delighted to have strong New Zealanders supporting and advocating on behalf of people with asthma,” says Linda. “Scott’s journey has been spectacular and we think he has still helped to raise huge awareness of the importance of aerobic activity, which was his aim.”

Both Scott and his four year-old son Zac have asthma, a cause he and his family are passionate about supporting. Scott’s mother Charmaine has been heavily involved with Asthma Waikato, and is now a life member who volunteers teaching asthma education in schools.

While fit and healthy himself, Scott’s asthma added another dimension to the trip. Kayaking is hard work, and he’s had to keep an eye on his health throughout. It’s unfortunate that recent events outside of Scott (or anyone’s) control have called short what was already a spectacular journey and would have been an incredible world-first. (Australian Andrew McAuley disappeared at sea in 2007, while attempting the same feat.)

Life on the purpose-built 6.4 meter kayak has been meagre. Scott used solar panels and battery to power the chart plotter and desalinator (which converts salt water into fresh), and slept in a cabin which was only slightly larger than himself.

Scott credits his success to that point to his decision-making abilities and the support of those who have helped him. “It’s really about ensuring you make the right decisions,” he says. “It’s about making sure you know what you’re doing and are able to keep things straight out there.”

The Asthma New Zealand team send their well wishes for a speedy recovery to Scott, and remain proud to be aligned to what was nothing short of a heroic feat.

- Ends -

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