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29 December 2011

SAWDIS Holiday Alert 2011/2012

Image: PSPG Trans Agulhas (Click on image for larger view.)

PSPG Trans Agulhas - The Toughest Boat Race in the world

Its summer again and time for the most gruelling endurance event on the beaches of the Western Cape, South Africa. The Trans Agulhus Inflatable Boat Race will take place over 5 days, from Plettenberg Bay to Strand commencing on 28 December 2011. Packed beaches and fun in the sun will encourage the competitors in this summer showpiece.


The idea started with Sparks Esterhuyzen, well-known inhabitant of Hermanus and still involved with training just-out-of-school young people at See- and Sand, Hermanus. By then Sparks had already rowed 5 times around the most southern point of South Africa, the longest being with a Cano from Nature's Valley to Cape Town (± 700 km).

He shared the idea with Jean Engelbrecht from Stellenbosch. Jean conveyed this to his Inflatable Boat Club members and after a meeting or two, they decided to do this route in their Inflatable Boats. Thus, the Trans Agulhas Inflatable Boat Challenge was born.

It was not as easy as just that. When “Die Burger”, a local Afrikaans Newspaper and the first sponsor, first announced the Challenge, every one said it was too dangerous and couldn't be done. Nobody gave any notice and just went about their business of organizing the first Trans Agulhas Challenge.

On the 26th December 1988 thirty three boats started the 1st Trans Agulhas Challenge at Nature's Valley. The finish was in the Old Harbour, Hermanus on the 3rd January 1989 and everyone agreed that the Trans Agulhas Challenge came to stay. It is not possible to tell what happened on the 1st Trans Agulhas Challenge. A very thick book will have to be written one day to convey all the tales. Interesting to know, is that the organizing committee consisted out of 5 members. Between them they had 2 vehicles, of which 1 broke down at Vleesbaai.

Today, the Trans Agulhas Challenge is a world class event, hosted every year by Agulhas Inflatable Boat Club (AIBC). The Trans Agulhas Challenge has started the Long Haul events hosted by SAIBA and other boat clubs. The design of the Inflatable boat has changed over the years, and we believe that it is because of the Trans Agulhas Challenge, testing man, boat and machine alike. There is just no other challenge like it.

This year marks the 21st Trans Agulhas Challenge and we hope to continue for many more years.

The SAWDIS was present at the start of the Second Stage from Mossel Bay to Stilbaai (86 km) on Santos Beach at 08h00 this morning. (29 December 2011) Unfortunately I only had my cellphone at hand to take a few photos. I apologize for the quality of the pictures. (Click on images for larger view.)

More information about the PSPG Trans Agulhas race available HERE.

- PSPG Trans Agulhas