National Geographic announced that Polish kayaker Aleksander Doba has been named the 2015 People's Choice Adventurer of the Year. The 67-year old earned international acclaim after he spent 6 months alone in a kayak paddling from Lisbon, Portugal to New Smyrna Beach in Florida, covering some 7700 miles (12,390 km) in the process). In doing so, he became the only person to kayak across complete a fully journey by kayak across the Atlantic completely alone and unassisted.
Doba was one of 14 people who earned the honor of being named National Geographic Adventurers of the Year. Other honorees for 2015 include mountaineer Ueli Steck, skier Kit DesLauriers, and rock climber Tommy Caldwell, who recently was a part of the team that made the first free ascent of the Dawn Wall in Yosemite. Others include blind kayakers Erik Weihenmayer and Lonnie Bedwell, as well as long distance swimmer Lewis Pugh.
The 2015 class of Adventurers of the Year were announced back in December, when an online poll was placed on the National Geographic Adventure website asking readers to weigh in with their thoughts on who should get the People's Choice Award. Since then, more 521,000 votes have been cast, Doba receiving the most of any of the nominees.
The Polish paddler started kayaking at the age of 34, and has already completed one crossing of the Atlantic. Back in 2010-2011 he traveled from South Africa to South America by kayak as well. This time out his intended course was expected to cover 5400 miles (8690 km). But severe storms and equipment failure pushed him off course, extended the journey further than he had expected.
Congratulations to Aleksander on earning this honor. His story is a good one, and I can see why it appeals to so many people. All of the nominees were very worthy of being called Adventurers of the Year, but he was able to rise above the competition and take home the People's Choice Award.