Botha was expected to leave on Tuesday, however due to the unfavourable weather over the last few days, this was not possible. Picture: Supplied
Botha was expected to leave on Tuesday, however due to the unfavourable weather over the last few days, this was not possible. Picture: Supplied

Solo rower Zirk Botha sets off on journey from Cape Town for Rio de Janeiro

By Sukaina Ishmail Time of article published Dec 4, 2020

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Cape Town - Zirk Botha will set off on Saturday, 5 December from Cape Town on a 7 000 km solo journey, hoping to finish off in Rio de Janeiro and being one of the few to row across the Atlantic.

Botha was expected to leave on Tuesday, however due to the unfavourable weather over the last few days, this was not possible.

He said: “I have to leave when the south-westerly wind isn’t dominant because it will push my boat straight back towards the coastline. When leaving from Cape Town, I need to row in a westerly direction to clear the coast and shipping lanes. Once I am out in deep water the wind direction becomes less of a factor. The predicted conditions for Saturday looks good.”

Botha said the challenge was not entirely regarding the heavy winds but it is a combination of the wind speed and direction.

“My boat can safely cope with winds in excess of 30 knots, but I cannot row into a wind stronger than five knots without wasting unnecessary energy,” he said.

He said big swells and heavy winds are expected during this time of the year, which one would need to ride out, but with a sea anchor deployed it will steady the boat.

“The sea life is unpredictable, but I do expect to see dolphins and hopefully whales and other aquatic sea life. A lot of people have asked me about the danger of sharks but they pose no threat to me. Generally I am looking forward to the quiet and disconnect from social media and cellphone communication,” he said.

Botha’s safety of his journey will be monitored by FleetMon using their satellite trackers.

Botha’s sponsor, Juwi SA managing director Greg Austin, said: “I am deeply admiring of Zirk taking this on in the name of sustainability and climate change. This challenge to me is highly correlated with the severe challenges we all face as planetary citizens right now.”

Cape Argus

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