Two Men and a Kayak Attempt Cross-Tasman Challenge

Monday, 12 November 2007
In a world-first, Sydney mates James Castrission and Justin Jones will attempt to "Cross the Ditch" by kayaking 2200km, unassisted, from Foster, NSW to Auckland, New Zealand.
In a world-first, Sydney mates James Castrission and Justin Jones will attempt to "Cross the Ditch" by kayaking 2200km, unassisted, from Foster, NSW to Auckland, New Zealand.

The pair will set off from Forster Marina Boat Ramp (on the Forster break wall next to the bridge, Forster Side- take 'sea side' exit from roundabout), Tuesday 13 November. They will be taking interviews between 0900- 01030 and departing at 1100.

Castrission (25, from Gordon) and Jones (24, from Kensington) have been preparing their custom-built kayak and expedition plans for the past two years to ensure the safest possible journey. The ‘Crossing the Ditch' expedition is expected to take between 40 and 50 days. The two young men will use the prevailing currents and winds to take them southeast from Newcastle to Auckland, New Zealand.

The young adventurers are confident they have researched, prepared and tested as much as possible, but are under no illusions about the potential for things to go wrong.  However, they believe they can balance the spirit of human adventure with a sensible approach to safety.

"We're looking to fulfil a childhood dream by completing one of the last great Australian adventures, but we're also highly conscious of taking every conceivable precaution to ensure we complete the journey," said Castrission.

"This trip has been delayed twice over the past year to ensure we have the right equipment, the right conditions and the right safety practices in place.

"We have been extremely fortunate to have the support of our major sponsor, Unwired, whose financial support has ensured we have been able to prioritise the safety components of this expedition.

"They understand, appreciate and encourage the sense of adventure, but have ensured that the challenge is a folly, if it puts our lives or the lives of others at risk.

"We've consulted weather, sailing, rescue and safety experts in preparing for this trip to be sure we have considered and minimised the risks wherever possible.

"From a safety point of view, we've done the same preparation and survival training as a round-the-world yachtsman would undertake."

The pair have undertaken extensive risk management research for all facets of the expedition. James and Justin have consulted various specialists including marine meteorologists, emergency and Navy doctors and leading sailors. They have even created a 40 page risk management manual which details all potential problems, precautions taken to minimise risk and actions to be taken to handle scenarios.

David Spence, CEO of Unwired, proudly supports extraordinary people like James & Justin, who take considered risks, make smart decisions and ambitiously pursue their dreams.

"We have every confidence in James and Justin. We are excited to be able to help two dedicated friends accomplish their dreams and achieve a world first,' said Spence.

"We have been committed to their expedition from day one and are keen to be with them every step of the way - via satellite. We will be tuning into their daily podcasts, and we look forward to the ultimate belated Christmas present welcoming them on the other side of the Tasman sometime around December 25th."

Dr Roger ‘Clouds' Badham, Director of the Marine Weather Service, has consulted on the expedition and believes Castrission and Jones have taken every possible weather situation into account.

"I've spoken at length with both James and Justin and they are approaching this crossing in a very professional manner," said Badham.

"I'm impressed with their preparation, their risk management plan and I've made myself available to assist them as much as I can in their endeavours."

Their specially built kayak, ‘Lot 41‘, was designed specifically for the crossing by UK marine designer Rob Feloy. Construction was undertaken by Graham Chapman and the team at Adventure Marine on the NSW Central Coast.  The vessel features self-rightability, sleeping quarters, provision storage plus a drogue to help stabilise in big seas and solar power cells to power communications. The kayak features full radio and satellite phone communications, GPS navigation systems, an inflatable two man raft, survival suits and emergency beacons, including EPIRB devices, for emergency use.

Castrission and Jones have tested the kayak on numerous test runs over the past year including a jaunt from Port Stevens to Sydney. This 170km journey took 3 days. They were 30km off the coast. After each test journey, they have refined the design to ensure the vessel will cope with various seas conditions and weather.

Final details of the start of the ‘Crossing The Ditch' expedition from Foster will be advised once confirmed.

  • Crossing the Ditch will be the first kayak across the Tasman Sea
  • Crossing the Ditch will be the longest trans-oceanic expedition ever attempted in a double kayak with two expeditioners
  • Crossing the Ditch will be the second longest trans-oceanic expedition relying solely on paddle power for propulsion
  • Crossing the Ditch will be the fourth longest open water paddle attempted in a kayak
  • 6/10 of the "Greatest Sea kayak expeditions of all time" relied on the assistance of wind power via sails. Lot 41 has no sails.

James Castrission & Justin Jones
Two adventurers from Sydney who share a deep passion for adventure and all things outdoors. "Beneath all our actions we hold a strong desire to explore and understand the extent of what humans are capable of." Jones

James Castrission (25) was working as a Management Consultant for Deloitte. He completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Sydney in 2003 and a Diploma of Financial Markets from the Securities Institute of Australia.

In 2005 Justin Jones (24) completed an advanced science degree with Honours at the University of New South Wales and is currently undertaking a Masters of Commerce, also at UNSW.

Both Castrission and Jones completed their schooling at Knox Grammar School, finishing in 2000. They have undertaken numerous adventures both domestically and internationally.

Among their outdoor accomplishments:
  • In April 2006, the pair returned from a successful 9 day kayak crossing of the notorious Bass Strait.
  • In 2001, both part of the first successful expedition to kayak the entire length of the Murray River (2560km). This expedition began at the source of the Murray River, near Thredbo in the high country, and was completed at its mouth at Goolwa near Adelaide. In the process they raised more than $9000 for the Starlight's Children's Foundation.
  • James has led many expeditions internationally to climb mountains in New Zealand (Mount Cook, Mount Aspiring and various other technical peaks) and big walls in Yosemite, America, including a successful three-day ascent of the Nose on El Capitan.
  • Between them, Castrission and Jones have completed a number of adventure races (Oxfam, Arrow) and both remain avid bushwalkers and sea kayakers.

CONTACT: Pat Brothers 0407 276 728 (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or Nicole Browne   0414 673 762

Photos and audio grabs from the expedition will be uploaded when possible to and are available for download.
David Johnston

David Johnston

David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.

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