After a year and a half of planning, the adventure of a life time has finally begun for six surf lifeguards.
The team set out this morning from Auckland's Viaduct Harbour on a 40-day circumnavigation of New Zealand in two specially modified Inflatable Rescue Boats (IRBs).
The 40-day trip will see the crew visit 32 of New Zealand's most popular and remote beaches.
The first stop for the team is Whangarei, which should take between six and eight hours, depending on weather conditions.
New Zealand Surf Life Saving president, and former Waitakere mayor, Bob Harvey said while he wished he was going out with the team he knew how hard it was going to be for them.
'This is no mean feat to do what the guys are doing today. It's an extraordinary hard thing to do.
'An average IRB rescue lasts about three to four minutes, which is about as much as the body can handle. And these guys have 40 days.'
And completing the journey will not be easy - it will mean 40 back-to-back days of being soaked by sea spray, confined to a 3.8m IRB for hours at a time and battling the elements. It is the first time a full circumnavigation of New Zealand will be completed in a boat less than 4m in length.
The crews are on schedule having arrived in Whangarei at 4.00pm today.
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President of NZ Surf Lifesaving, Bob Harvey speaking before the start of the marathon voyage -
Launch in Viaduct Harbour this morning -
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8:00 AM Wed 5 Jan 2011 GMT
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