MARK Beeley will sail to the Arctic Circle the hard way this month.
The Sheffield adventurer is part of the crew of a small RIB – Rigid Inflatable Boat – that will battle against the North Sea in the first venture of its kind.
Mark, aged 46, of Cawthorne Grove, Woodseats, will travel from Scotland and then along the Norwegian fjords to the Arctic Circle as part of an attempt to prove the capability of the modern-day RIB.
He will be in one of two open vessels that will offer little protection from the icy winds, travelling an average of 120 miles per day at around 20 knots. The longest day will see the team travel 230 nautical miles in 11.5 hours.
A former student of Abbeydale Grange, Mark is marine zone sales manager for Suzuki.
He said: “I’ve been round Britain, Ireland and Scotland on a RIB before but this is going to be completely different.
“The challenges I’ve taken part in have been large events with dozens of boats all taking part together. It’s going to be a completely different kettle of fish going in just two RIBS with no back-up boat. It really will be an adventure!
“When Suzuki got on board as a sponsor I jumped at the chance to be able to take part – it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity that I know I will never forget.
“Suzuki will be providing the 90-horsepower outboard motors to power the RIBs so I’ll be responsible for looking after those during the trip, should the need arise.
“I think what will stay with me forever after taking part in this is the scenery we will see. Being in small, six-metre RIBs, we will be able to get right up close to the Norwegian fjords.”
Eight people are taking the part in the first Gore-Tex Arctic Challenge, which is due to leave Wick in the Scottish Highlands on June 27.
Mark will be leaving behind wife Linda and daughters Lilli, aged 12, and Ashleigh, eight.
Sheffield may see an unusual location for somebody whose job is spent largely on the coast, recommending and testing marine equipment, but the central location is an advantage and there are two leading RIB builders on the doorstep.
For the Arctic trip, he will be in a six-metre, Suzuki-powered Humber RIB facing temperatures that could drop to zero – “Eight hours in the freezing rain isn’t nice” – and potentially rough seas.
The teams will stop each night, first in the Shetland Isles, then in Norway.
Mark, also a keen motorcyclist, added: “What I’m really looking forward to is being able to show people that you can do adventurous things like this in small, outboard-powered boats.
“The RIBs we’re going on are the kind that can be towed behind a car and kept on the drive.”
His progress can be followed via tracking technology feeding into social media such as Twitter and Facebook and the challenge website, www.ribstothelimit.com.