Work among the penguins? France is looking for candidates

In this file photo taken on September 06, 2012 shows the Kerguelen archipelago which forms one of the five districts of the territory of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands (TAAF). (AFP)
Updated 07 February 2018
0

Work among the penguins? France is looking for candidates

BREST, France: Fancy a job at the North or South Pole? A French research institute is looking for you.
The Paul-Emile Victor Polar Institute in northwest France has launched a public appeal to recruit around 40 French-speaking people for a wide variety of jobs at its six bases in the Arctic and Antarctica.
From chemists and carpenters to bakers and pastry chefs, the institute is stepping up its efforts to reach potential candidates for 12- to 14-month stints at its bases with endless summer days and winter nights.
“We get lots of interest from the biology fields but not enough mechanics or tool operators, because these people don’t know about us,” said Laurence Andre Le Marec, hiring director at the institute named for a French polar explorer and pioneer.
It operates at the Spitzberg base in the Arctic and the Dumont d’Urville and Concordia bases in Antarctica, as well as three bases on France’s sub-Antarctic islands of Amsterdam, Crozet and Kerguelen.
Women in particular are being sought in this year’s recruitment drive, which includes six testimonial videos from female alumni.
At the Dumont d’Urville station there are just six women compared to 24 men. “I haven’t been able to get balance” among the sexes, Andre Le Marec admitted.
The 40 successful candidates — 30 of whom are reserved for France’s corps of Civic Service volunteers — will have to pass a medical exam that includes psychological evaluations.
“We make sure they are physically apt for this type of mission, and psychologically ready to live in a small group on an isolated site under conditions that can at times be extreme,” Andre Le Marec said.
The mechanic being sought for the Concordia station, for example, will have to mesh with a group of about 60 people in summer and just 14 in winter — when temperatures can plunge to minus 80 degrees Celsius (minus 110 degrees Fahrenheit).
“There’s no going back over winter,” the job posting on the institute’s website warns.
Concordia, which houses a French-Italian team, is one of three permanent bases maintained in the interior of Antarctica, one of the most isolated and inhospitable places on the planet.
“Not all the bases have temperatures this extreme,” Andre Le Marec assured, adding that a biologist sought on the island of Amsterdam, in the southern Indian Ocean, would be able to work “in a T-shirt.”
“It was incredible,” said Claire Le Calvez, who spent a tour at Dumont d’Urville as a chemist and glaciologist in 2003 and eventually joined the roughly 50 permanent employees at the institute.
What one discovers in the natural world of Antarctica is amazing, she added.
“These are memories that last a lifetime.”


Cliff divers leap from Beirut landmark in international tour

Updated 16 July 2019
0

Cliff divers leap from Beirut landmark in international tour

  • The competition was the fifth of this year’s Red Bull Cliff Diving Series that began its 11th season in April
  • Raouche Rock has featured on the back of postcards, on stamps, in family photographs and many Arabic songs and films

BEIRUT: Cliff divers used to competing in isolated spots have been leaping into the Mediterranean in bustling Beirut, the first time the Lebanese capital’s landmark Raouche Rock has hosted an international contest.
The towering rock, also known as Pigeons Rock, is an enduring symbol of a city where many other landmarks were destroyed by the 1975-90 civil war.
“Normally when we have cliffs like this, it is in the middle of nowhere. I have never been to a place with an amazing cliff right in the city center,” said Gary Hunt, a Briton who won the men’s competition on Sunday.
The competition was the fifth of this year’s Red Bull Cliff Diving Series that began its 11th season in April on El Nido island in the Philippines and winds up in Bilbao, Spain in September.
Hunt became the first diver in the series history to receive a perfect 10 score from each of the five judges at Sunday’s competition.
In the women’s contest, Australia’s Rhiannan Iffland, 27, scored her sixth consecutive win of this series.
“It doesn’t matter how many times you perform a dive. You still get up there 22 meters (72 feet) high and you still have all these negative emotions,” said Iffland, who has been diving since she was nine.
“To overcome that fear is something that I cannot express.”
Raouche Rock has featured on the back of postcards, on stamps, in family photographs and many Arabic songs and films.
Daring Lebanese have leapt from the rock for generations. Some have also committed suicide from it.
Hundreds of spectators watched the competition, which ended on Sunday, from the adjacent rocks and promenade.
’Young again’
Among them was 63-year-old fisherman Mohamed Itani, who said he had jumped off the cliff 36 times over the years for fun. “It is beautiful,” said Itani as he watched the divers. “It makes me feel young again.”
Judges mark the divers on their take-off and entry to the water and number of twists, somersaults and position in the air.
Hunt, 35, said he used to count to three just before he jumped but now just takes two breaths: one when he lifts his arms up and one when he leaps.
“There are three seconds in that air where you are just in total control. Your brain and your body decide what you do and you are completely free,” he said.
Itani described a similar feeling. “You’re like an eagle in the air,” he said.