Video | Dad's Sydney to Hobart in inflatable boat 'excitement, relief'

Inflatable: Nathan Rykers alongside his two daughters Jesse, 8, and Maddy, 11, (holding a trophy they made for him) and his trusty inflatable boat. Picture: John Veage
Inflatable: Nathan Rykers alongside his two daughters Jesse, 8, and Maddy, 11, (holding a trophy they made for him) and his trusty inflatable boat. Picture: John Veage

A Miranda man who successfully completed the Sydney to Hobart in an inflatable boat believes his boat was safer than most yachts taking part in the great race.

Nathan Rykers was an unofficial entrant in the race which left Sydney on Boxing Day.

It took Mr Rykers three, lonely days to reach his destination after setting out behind the 100-odd yachts which tackled the race.

Course: The course Mr Rykers took according to his GPS. Picture: Supplied

Course: The course Mr Rykers took according to his GPS. Picture: Supplied

Despite at times high seas, Mr Rykers said his boat held up well – floating like a “cork on the water”.

“I’d much prefer to be out in one of these than in a yacht because you are vulnerable in a yacht and the waves can really catch you. Safety wise, I would rather be in one of these.”

Mr Rykers has long used similar boats to the one he took on the journey. For the trip, he modified a 4m-long Gemini Thundercat with a 50 horse-power engine.

He said he spent about a year preparing for the journey including modifying his boat so it would easily flip back over if it capsized.

Mr Rykers said the idea to complete the journey came after spectating the race.

“I had followed the yachts from the start for a few years, following them down a fair way past Wollongong,” he said.

Big effort: Mr Rykers came back to some well wishes from his family. Picture: John Veage

Big effort: Mr Rykers came back to some well wishes from his family. Picture: John Veage

“And about two years ago I remember thinking I wouldn’t mind going the whole way.”

Mr Rykers ended up in tears after finally completing the 1200km adventure.

“I was just relieved that I had made it without any problems,” he said.

“And I had every feeling really – excitement, relief – I can not even explain it. Because the whole time you don’t even know if you will make it, not so much survive it, but whether the boat will hold up because there is so much that could go wrong with it.”

He said he not only proved something to himself but also to his two daughters Maddy and Jesse – of which he kept a picture on his boat.

“Apart from showing my girls that you can do anything that you want to do and completing a self challenge – seeing if I could do it – I wanted to promote the Great Barrier Reef and the problems they are having with global warming and the [crown-of-thorns] starfish.”

Mr Rykers slept and refueled at Eden on his first night, then made small stops at Flinders Island and near Hobart during the remainder of his trip.

He kept 200L of fuel, multiple GPS systems, 10 flares,  plenty of food and water, and a kite in case the engine brokedown on board.

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