Greg Austin, MD of juwi Renewable Energies (left) inspects the boat with Zirk Botha (right), who is tackling the 7000km rowing challenge.jpg. Picture:SUPPLIED
Greg Austin, MD of juwi Renewable Energies (left) inspects the boat with Zirk Botha (right), who is tackling the 7000km rowing challenge.jpg. Picture:SUPPLIED

Ex-diver Zirk Botha in bid to row solo from Cape Town to Rio

By Okuhle Hlati Time of article published Sep 16, 2020

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Cape Town - Former local naval combat officer Zirk Botha is preparing to take on a 3800 nautical mile journey across the Atlantic Ocean, to raise awareness about the environment and climate change.

The 59-year-old will man a small boat and attempt to row completely solo over an often treacherous and unpredictable ocean, from Cape Town to Rio de Janeiro, in December.

The journey is sponsored by Juwi Renewable Energies South Africa and is expected to take about 100 days.

Botha said he wants to use the challenge to highlight the impact of fossil fuels and irresponsible consumerism on the planet. “Renewable energies are essential to a sustainable future. For my solo row, I will be self-sustaining for more than three months. This provides a perfect showcase to support the message that 100% renewable energy is a practical option.

“In fact, in this case it is the only viable option. I will be totally reliant on solar-charged batteries as the source of electricity for my water maker (desalinator), autopilot, safety equipment, radio, and satellite communications equipment,” said Botha.

Botha served as a naval combat officer in the South African Navy, where he also qualified as a combat diver.

He built his boat “Ratel” - also known as a honey badger, an animal known for its courage and tenacity - almost single-handedly and has just completed installing equipment.

Botha is expecting to row for 14 hours a day on average, and will not have a supporting safety boat.

“The energy requirements are significant and staying well hydrated is very important.

“I will probably consume 10 litres of water and 8000 calories of food per day. A normal person consumes about 2500 calories a day.

“Even so, I expect to lose more than 12kg while crossing the Atlantic,” he said.

Botha said he was working hard to ensure he is ready for the challenge, by rowing intensively and doing weight and endurance training, but said his biggest challenge will not be physical, but rather mental.

The managing director of Juwi South Africa, Greg Austin, said: “We wish Zirk all the best for the row; his pioneering spirit, courage, grit and commitment to the environment are qualities that Juwi respects and fully aligns with.”

Cape Times

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