30th Trans Agulhas Boat Challenge
PLETTENBERGBAY TO STRAND – 5 DAYS – TOUGHEST INFLATABLEBOAT RACE IN THE WORLD!!!
It is a fast-paced, action-packed water sport event with over 60 inflatable boats battling it out on the water. The event is viewed annually during end of December by thousands of spectators, and is one of the most prestigious events in the word! AGRISELL is sponsoring a boat in the Modified Class. (Team M2 Agrisell - The World Champions 2017)
The Trans Agulhas Boat Challenge was started 30 years ago by the well-known Stellenbosch wine farmer Jean Engelbrecht and Sparks Esterhuizen a well-known inhabitant and extreme sport guru of Hermanus. They decided to do this challenging route in inflatable boats. Jean Engelbrecht conveyed the idea to the members of his inflatable boat club and the idea was met with great enthusiasm, thus the Trans Agulhas Boat Challenge was born on 26 December 1988 with thirty-tree boats participating in the first race.
Today, the Trans Agulhas Boat Challenge is a world class event, testing man, boat and machine alike. There is just no other challenge like it. This year marks the 30th Trans Agulhas Challenge and we hope the race to continues for many more years. Rated the toughest in the world - massive swells, waves and very strong winds will test all teams to their limits.
TEAM AGRISELL, consisting of Johann Lodewyks (pilot) and Flippie Schoeman (co-pilot) won this race in 2015/16. With their vast experience the team made a choice of propeller and setup of the boat to best suit the water condition for the first leg of 188 kilometre between Plettenberg Bay via Nature`s Valley to Mossel Bay. This the longest leg of the challenge is both mentally and physically gruelling, especially when you realise that you chose the wrong propeller. That proofs that no matter how many times you do the race, you still make mistakes. The rebound of the water adds to the challenge, as the boat becomes almost uncontrollable as you jump swells, water sprays over the nose-cone as you just hang on for dear life. The big holes and swells can almost capsize the boat at various stages. On the first day boats have to do 9 beach stops – they navigate the waves going into the beach – the co-pilot has to run around a check point and identify the boat to the official – the team then have to turn the boat and launch thru the waves - It is tough - the crew has to be alert and maintain constant focus as every second of this race counts. But that`s why we take part – not too many people can say that they have completed this event or even won like TEAM AGRISELL.
The aches and pains disappear and the adrenalin kicks in as TEAM AGRISELLL beach the boat and finish in the overall second place at Mossel Bay. Still, you have to keep your wits, be conservative, identify the right propeller, keeping in mind that there is another 4 days of racing to come.
And so, day 2 dawns and stage 2 long-haul awaits - with a good strategy is short and quick 86 kilometres. As the swell and the bumpy water can be testing, this stage will be remembered for a very strong wind and choppy waters. As TEAM AGRISELL find their rhythm it is critical to maximise on their performance of the previous day. Jumping over the last couple of waves, setting their sights on the crowds on the beach and navigating around the last turn buoy TEAM AGRISELL hit the beach as the stage winners in a spectacular way. Day 2 long-haul is done and dusted but, there`s always a ‘but’ in this sport. During the circuit racing an unfortunate but SPECTACULAR flip ended our surf race. That results in a time-penalty. Eina!
The after-effects of that flip spilled over to day`s 3 - 161-kilometre long-haul and it was another long day for the crew at the office. Every competitor understands the importance of this critical stage. The longer distance with only a few stops becomes a challenge as the frustrated crew need to stay sharp at all times. Finishing 4thdue to a powerless engine, cost TEAM AGRISELL valuable points on day three.
Yet, on day 4 TEAM AGRISELL bounced back! Today`s focus is not only on winning convincingly, but also to stay in the boat as TEAM AGRISELL enter a coastline that is infested with sharks! After realising the engine is back to its full potential, the calculations start and the final strategy comes into play as time is running out to gain on the front-runner competitors. Making it through the dangerous reefs from Struisbaai it becomes a massive achievement and the successful manoeuvres through Die Damme seems to lift the crew’s performance levels. Unfortunately, all planning and strategizing cannot control Mother Nature as normally the mist appears on this stage, which some could argue is beneficial. Teams have to stay close to the land, monitoring the swell directions, avoiding rocks and following the coast – these are key factors to surviving this stage as they followed the channels in the kelp to Pearly Beach. TEAM AGRISELL expected the biggest waves on the journey. The weather app assured it would be high tide and regardless of experience, the waves were huge and powerful. Finishing this stage is an achievement in itself. TEAM AGRISELL finished in second position. A huge crowd attends the Uilenkraalsmond stage finish, excitement mounts as the families, sponsors, support teams and friends creates an amazing atmosphere. It dawns on everyone involved with TEAM AGRISELL that we are truly blessed to be part of this great event. With the 4th long-haul stage completed TEAM AGRISELL goes on to win the surf race. The afternoons stage from Uilenkraalsmond to Gansbaai Harbour is along a most dangerous section on the coastline – teams have to navigate around Dangerpoint light house with danger looming in the form of rocks all the way. TEAM AGRISELL finishes in second place. The end is in sight, but TEAM AGRISELL is running out of time to catch the front-runners.
Day 5, an invitation to share adrenaline rushing excitement in the 113 kilometre from Gansbaai to the Strand – the last leg after five gruelling days of ocean racing. Not only high speed and clever manoeuvring, but critical decision-making will determine the success of the last long-haul stage to the finish line. With a boat Sponsored by GEMINI Marine (where you are guaranteed quality and craftsmanship of most exacting international standards) TEAM AGRISELL have total confidence to take up the challenge to wipe out the back-log, TEAM AGRISELL started in a flash and built up a huge lead approaching Hermanus. But the road to success was not plain sailing: Ending up at the new harbour instead of the old one, missing a checkpoint, cost valuable time and the team lost 12 positions having to turn back. TEAM AGRISELL did manage to make up these positions and finish FIRST OVERALL in the Strand - 1,6 kilometre ahead of the overall winner. Alas despite the applause of the large crowd the time made up it was not enough to wipe out our 4-minute back log.
TEAM AGRISELL, as runners up of the overall 30th TRANS AGULHAS salutes the organisers, the competitors, ground crew and support teams (especially Marius Lodewyks of Easi Marine) and last but not least its formidable 2017 World Championship team consisting of Johann Lodewyks (pilot) and Flippie Schoeman (co-pilot).
TEAM AGRISELL, not your average team!