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The New York Yacht Club was the setting on September 24 for the official US announcement of the Shackleton Epic, an expedition to honor Sir Ernest Shackleton’s heroic 1914–1916 voyage. Speaking at the event, world renowned adventurer Tim Jarvis described his vision to become the first to authentically re-enact Sir Ernest Shackleton’s perilous voyage from Elephant Island to South Georgia and the dangerous crossing of its unmapped mountainous interior. To this day, no one has successfully recreated Shackleton’s complete “double” journey across sea and land, let alone using traditional gear. Jarvis, a veteran of multiple polar expeditions, believes it will be the most challenging expedition of his life. “It will be one that will test my team and me to the limits,” he said.
Shackleton Epic has been in development since 2008, when The Honorable Alexandra Shackleton, granddaughter of Sir Ernest, approached Jarvis with the idea of an expedition to mark the centenary of one of the greatest leadership and survival stories of all time.
Fauna & Flora International (FFI) is the Shackleton Epic conservation partner, and will be the beneficiary of fundraising activities related to the expedition. Melissa Shackleton Dann, a relative to Sir Ernest, is FFI Board Chair in the US. Speaking at the event, Ms Dann described meeting Tim four years ago. Over dinner in Melissa’s home, Tim mentioned FFI, which led to the discovery of their strong mutual connections to this organization.
Ms Dann went on to say, “I know I speak on behalf of all of FFI when I say that we are truly honored that Tim Jarvis has selected Fauna & Flora International as a conservation partner. When I first met Tim through my cousin Alexandra Shackleton I knew immediately why she felt confident that Tim stands a very good chance of being able to replicate Shackleton’s grueling boat journey and South Georgia overland crossing. It is a pleasure and a privilege to be associated with such an exciting adventure and to know that FFI will benefit from it as well.”
Jarvis and his crew will set sail in the Alexandra Shackleton, a purpose-built, exact replica of Sir Ernest’s 22.5’ whaler the James Caird. Travelling at a distance from the Shackleton will be the expedition support vessel TS Pelican. This majestic tall ship is similar in size to Shackleton’s original expedition ship, Endurance. Shackleton Epic’s presenting partner, Intrepid Travel, a leading adventure and sustainable travel company, is offering ten lucky men or women the “adventure of a lifetime”: if you are a hardy soul, have good sea legs and the financial means for an eight-week historic voyage, apply now – only eight berths remain and are for sale at www.shackletonepic.com.
Margaret Morrell, co-author of the book Shackleton’s Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer, also spoke at the event and said she is thrilled to see Tim bringing this reenactment to life. She noted that Shackleton’s story resonates through history and that his people-centered approach to leadership can be a guide to anyone in a position of authority. He was a leader who would do anything it took to save the lives of his crew.
Shackleton Epic’s major sponsor is the global engineering firm Arup. “As an environmental scientist with Arup, I have long admired the work of FFI and want to support their climate change and biodiversity conservation programs through Shackleton Epic. During the expedition, my crew and I will monitor environmental impacts in the region,” Jarvis said. Ms Dann added, “Change to global weather patterns is one of the greatest threats that will face biodiversity over the coming years and the Shackleton Epic partnership with FFI will highlight the importance of action to conserve the Antarctic ecosystem.” FFI, the world’s first international conservation organization, was a fledgling operation at the time of Sir Ernest’s voyage, but Jarvis believes Shackleton would approve of FFI and their practice of being on the ground and delivering results.