The multi-national team set to journey to the South Pole by tractor in the Antarctica2 expedition brings a vast range of experience and expertise to this exciting polar challenge.
The expedition was three years in the planning during which time, team members undertook training in Northern Canada and Iceland to prepare them for the practical, physical and mental challenges of the journey.
Expedition Ambassador and Lead Driver of the specially-prepared MF 5610 tractor is Manon Ossevoort, aka ‘Tractor Girl’. Manon is joined by polar explorers Matty McNair (Expedition Lead Guide ) and Sarah McNair-Landry (Expedition Guide and Audio-Visual Support), Nicolas Bachelet (Lead Mechanic) and Simon Foster (Creative Director and Audio-Visual Lead). Expedition specialists, Arnór Ingólfsson (Expedition Leader and Arctic Truck Driver 1) and Jóhannes Guðmundsson (Arctic Truck Driver 2) will provide guidance and safety support.
Manon Ossevoort – Expedition Ambassador and Lead Driver
38-year-old Dutch actress and theatre-maker Manon Ossevoort is highly accustomed to long distance tractor journeys and has driven a tractor solo 38,000 km through Africa and Europe. Along the way, she found that her travels inspired other people to talk about their own dreams and she set about collecting them en route. Her own long-term dream has to been to complete the trip “to the end of the world” and take a tractor to the South Pole. As she says: “Sometimes you just have to do it - and that became the motto of my journey.”
Manon believes that the toughest part of the expedition will be the route through the mountains and crevasse area. “Also challenging are the notorious ‘sastrugi’ – frozen snow waves – which will make for a an extremely bouncy tractor ride!” she says.
Matty McNair (Expedition Lead Guide) and Sarah McNair-Landry (Expedition Guide and Audio-Visual Support)
Mother and daughter, Matty and Sarah from Canada run NorthWinds which specialises in training and adventure travel to Polar regions. They operate a Polar Training Centre in Iqaluit on Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic where they trained members of the Antarctica2 team.
Adventures are a way of life for Matty who was born in the United States. Indeed, she is the first American to ski to both the North and South Poles. In 1997, she led the first ever all-female expedition to the Geographic North Pole. In 2004/2005, she completed an unsupported ski expedition to the South Pole with her children, Sarah and Eric.
“I have been to the South Pole four times but this is a first with a tractor. It’s a slow and steady pace but the tractor seems to be able to climb anything, whilst pulling a massive amount of weight. I’m really impressed with that,” she comments.
Sarah McNair Landry has inherited her mother’s taste for adventure. At the age of 18, she became the youngest person in the world to ski to the South Pole.
Nicolas Bachelet (Lead Mechanic)
French-born Nicolas Bachelet is the tractor technical service specialist and will also help out with some of the driving. Together with the Massey Ferguson Engineering team from Beauvais, France, he has been involved in adapting the tractor for Antarctic conditions. “If we have a problem with the machine, it’s my job to solve it and ensure we can continue with the expedition,” he says. “I think that the tractor will do everything we want it to. This is an amazing adventure.”
Simon Foster (Creative Director and Audio-Visual Lead)
Simon Foster from England has worked as a photographer and cameraman for 22 years. His first 12 years were spent in the Audio-Visual Department for Massey Ferguson, so shooting tractors is something of a speciality! He now runs his own photography business and has travelled widely in Europe, Africa and South America working for a broad range of clients.
“Travelling with the team and the tractor is going to be an experience of a lifetime,” he says. “Coping with the cold will be a challenge both for me and the camera equipment. With temperatures dipping below minus 40 degrees C, measures have to be taken to protect the inner working mechanisms and electronics, and guard against problems such as condensation.”
Arnór Ingólfsson, (Expedition Leader and Arctic Truck Driver 1)
Jóhannes Guðmundsson, (Arctic Truck Driver 2)
Icelanders, Arnór Ingólfsson and Jóhannes Guðmundsson are from Arctic Trucks which specialises in modifying 4WD trucks for use in rough environments. They will drive the expedition support vehicles - two Toyota four- and six-wheel drive pick-up trucks.
“It’s an exciting prospect but the conditions are very extreme – anything can happen!” says Arnór. “My goal is to bring everyone back safe. I think the tractor will do fine.”
Leading industry partners supporting Antarctica2 include Massey Ferguson, Trelleborg, Castrol, AGCO Finance, AGCO Parts, Fuse Technologies and MechaTrac. The expedition will attempt a 5000 km round trip to the South Pole by tractor November 2014-January 2015.
“Travelling with the team and the tractor is going to be an experience of a lifetime”