After months at sea with no company but his own, avid South African adventurer and former naval officer Zirk Botha finally completed his first solo transatlantic ocean crossing. Picture: Gonzalo Arselli/Supplied
After months at sea with no company but his own, avid South African adventurer and former naval officer Zirk Botha finally completed his first solo transatlantic ocean crossing. Picture: Gonzalo Arselli/Supplied

Zirk Botha finally on terra firma in Rio after transatlantic row

By Nomalanga Tshuma Time of article published Mar 1, 2021

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Cape Town - After months at sea with no company but his own, avid South African adventurer and former naval officer Zirk Botha finally completed his first solo transatlantic ocean crossing on his boat ‘Ratel’ late on Saturday evening.

In completing the crossing, Botha set world records as the first person to row a south transatlantic route alone and unsupported by any safety craft, and for the fastest row from Cape to Rio, in just 70 days.

According to his daily journal, Botha rowed a total distance of 7 200km or 4 000 nautical miles into the small bay of Buzios just north of Rio de Janeiro, at 3.45am on Saturday, February 27, South African time and 10.45pm, Friday, February 26, Brazilian time.

“When I started planning this trip two years ago people said I was mad. I want to encourage everyone to dream big, do big, and never to allow anyone to discourage them. Life is a great adventure. I completed a solo row across a route that is extremely remote, and I had no safety backup boat as in organised races,” said Botha.

ZIRK Botha enjoying a burger upon his arrival in Brazil on Saturday evening. After recuperating in Buzios on Saturday, he rowed on to Cabo Frio on Sunday, to complete his voyage and to receive a massive Brazilian welcome at the original Rio de Janeiro Yacht Club, better known as ”Iate Clube do Rio de Janeiro”. Escorted in by a flotilla of boats and welcomed by locals, dignitaries and media, Botha was the toast of the town. Picture: Supplied.

“While I had near-perfect weather conditions to facilitate a record-breaking crossing, it has been intense, with only two calm days over the whole crossing. The relentless nature of the weather has been physically and mentally draining. I was not prepared for that type of challenge.”

Stepping off his boat Ratel onto Brazilian soil for the first time in Buzios after months at sea, Botha described his legs as very wobbly, and the experience as totally overwhelming.

He said: “The first thing I did on arrival was to eat a burger, chips and a Coke, which I was craving and it tasted really amazing. I know I need to start rebuilding my body now, with healthy fresh food. I am physically exhausted.”

Cape Argus

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