The Rolex Awards for Enterprise
Ragnar Thorseth is a sailor, journalist, author and explorer who has led courageous expeditions to Greenland, the Svalbard archipelago and northern Canada, using only small boats, snow scooters and sleds. He has followed the route of Roald Amundsen through the North West Passage, and crossed the ice to the North Pole. The North Pole expedition was followed by sailing around the world in a replica of a Viking merchantman.
From the earliest age in his native Norway, Thorseth was fascinated by Arctic life and landscapes and the writings of explorers and adventurers such as Rasmussen, Amundsen and Jack London. His dream was to follow in their tracks with his own boat. ln 1971, he achieved this dream by undertaking an expedition to East Greenland and Spitsbergen in a 10-metre motorboat; however, this was preceded in 1969 by a remarkable achievement in which, setting out in a 3.5m open boat, Ragnar Thorseth spent ten days rowing single-handed across the North Sea, the first person to do so.
ln 1975, he undertook an expedition to Greenland, Northern Canada and New York in the wake of Leif Erikson, the Viking who discovered America five centuries before Columbus. He made several trips to Greenland, Labrador and the waters between Jan Mayen and East Greenland and as observer on board Norwegian fishing and sealing vessels and, in 1978, he set out in a 6m speedboat to emulate the feat of his celebrated countryman Roald Amundsen, the first man to negotiate the Northwest Passage. This was followed in 1982 by a snowmobile expedition to the North Pole.
Ragnar Thorseth built the Saga Siglar, a replica of an 11th century knarr, or Viking merchant ship, and, between 1983 and 1986, he sailed his boat around the world to make it the oldest type of vessel to have completed a circum-navigation. ln 1987, in a 17.4m ketch, the Havella, he undertook an expedition to Greenland, and then wintered on board the same boat off Spitsbergen with his wife and two children. ln 1989, he spent four months filming polar bears around Spitsbergen.
Ragnar Thorseth has written six books, a large number of newspaper and magazine articles, and has co-produced many documentaries for television, some of which have been broadcast in more than 30 countries.
Published in 1993