The 58-year-old Grant Blakeway will be one of only two South Africans to compete in this year’s 4 800km sea voyage, which starts in the Canary Islands and finishes in the West Indies. Photo: Facebook

Cape Town – South African entrepreneur Grant Blakeway will use the 2019 edition of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic challenge to shine the spotlight on the devastating effects of plastic pollution on marine life when he competes as a solo rower later this year.

The 58-year-old will be one of only two South Africans to compete in this year’s 4 800km sea voyage, which starts in the Canary Islands and finishes in the West Indies.

The annual premier event on the global ocean rowing race attracts competitors from all over the world.

An Atlantic challenge of 39 days, eight hours and 43 minutes, the race will test the courage, stamina and endurance of everyone who pits themselves against the might of the sea.

It is here where Blakeway hopes to inspire social action in South Africa and around the world.

The Durban-based logistics entrepreneur said plastic pollution had a devastating effect on marine ecosystems everywhere.

“I have no illusions about the task that lies ahead of me. I’m not a young man and I’m certainly not a professional rower. I’m just a regular guy. 

"But I have a global audience with this race. And I’ve got a voice. I’m using it now to tell people that we need to wake up and realise we’re destroying our oceans,” he said.

With an estimated eight million tons of plastic entering the seas every year, Blakeway has chosen White Shark Projects’ Recycle Swop Shop and the Aquarium’s Oceans in Motion outreach programme as his beneficiaries.

“We have to teach our children and grandchildren that the oceans are vital to life on Earth. And we have to show them how to be active environmental protectors,” said Blakeway.

With a boat built by ocean master marine consultant Leven Brown in his corner, he chose the name "Melokuhle" for his race team, a Zulu word which means “stand for good”.

“Stand up. That’s the whole point. We have to be active; we have to start doing things differently and we have to start looking for better solutions,” he said.

Cape Times