Want to win National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year Award? Sea kayak across the Atlantic solo…at age 67. Polish adventurer Aleksander Doba did so last year – for the second time – and in so doing was named the 2015 National Geographic People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year. It was billed as the longest open-water kayak crossing of the Atlantic Ocean ever.
Doba was selected from a group of die-hard adventurers drawing more than a half a million online votes — the most ever —cast on the National Geographic Adventure website.
“It was the vote at the National Geographic website that showed how many known- and unknown-to-me friends I have all over the world who are fascinated with the 67-year-young person in a kayak on the great ocean,” says Doba. “It makes me feel humbled and very honored.”
Doba spent more than six months paddling 7,700 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, beginning in October 2013 from Lisbon, Portugal, and ultimately docking in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, in April 2014. He originally intended to follow a 5,400-mile route, but a combination of storms and equipment failure pushed him off course and extended the journey. Averaging 30 miles a day, Doba is the only person to kayak across the Atlantic, continent to continent, alone, unassisted and under his own power. Doba, who is now 68, began kayaking at age 34. He had already kayaked across the Atlantic from Africa to South America in 2010-2011.
“Each of our honorees embodies the spirit of adventure and is committed to following big dreams and redefining what’s possible,” says Mary Anne Potts, editorial director of National Geographic Adventure online. “That Doba’s story touched so many shows that experience and wisdom triumph in the end. He reminds us that, no matter your age, life should be an adventure.”
Other 2015 Adventurer of the Year honorees include Tommy Caldwell, who recently completed the first free ascent of the Dawn Wall on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, and Will Gadd, who scaled the frozen face of Niagara Falls in January.
The full list of the other 2015 honorees:
• Tommy Caldwell, a climber from Colorado, who completed the first traverse of the Fitz Roy massif, the iconic skyline in Patagonia, Argentina, in February 2014 with previous Adventurer of the Year Alex Honnold;
• Liz Clark, an exploratory surfer from southern California, who has spent the last nine years living on a small sailboat and traveling across 25,000 nautical miles of the Pacific Ocean in search of remote swells;
• Kit DesLauriers of Wyoming, ski mountaineer, National Geographic grantee and first person to ski the Seven Summits (the highest peaks on each continent), who led a team of skiers and scientists to Alaska’s Brooks Range to measure the change in glaciers and establish baseline data for the region;
• Will Gadd of Canada and Gavin McClurg of Idaho, who paraglided 400 miles over the Canadian Rockies to complete the longest-known journey covered in the air by a paraglider;
• Ben Knight and Travis Rummel of Colorado and Matt Stoecker of California, a filmmaking team whose documentary “DamNation” brought the topic of dam removal to the forefront of conservation efforts;
• Briton Lewis Pugh, a long-distance swimmer who aims to bring attention to the deterioration of marine ecosystems and who swam the Seven Seas (Mediterranean, Adriatic, Aegean, Black, Red, Arabian and North Seas) in 2014, choosing extreme locales plagued by overfishing and invasive species;
• Wasfia Nazreen, a humanitarian who has embarked on a mission to become the first Bangladeshi to climb all of the Seven Summits to empower her country’s women and girls;
• Ueli Steck of Switzerland, who set a new route in record-setting time climbing, solo, the south face of Annapurna in the Himalayas; and
• Blind kayakers Erik Weihenmayer and Lonnie Bedwell, who paddled 277 miles of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, relying on their sense of touch and sound.
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