Capetonian, Zirk Botha, will depart on his 7000km solo Trans-Atlantic row from Cape Town to Rio de Janeiro, on Saturday 5 December 2020, leaving from Granger Bay Marina, at 09:00. Botha will be the first person to attempt this Trans-Atlantic crossing alone.
The 59 year-old Botha is undertaking the extreme challenge in support of the environment and sustainable development. The crossing requires him to row completely unassisted for approximately 100 days, over approximately 7000kms (3800 Nautical Miles) in often treacherous weather conditions.
“I will have no supporting safety boat, and I can expect to experience large waves and swells, not to mention the threat of numerous tanker and other large vessels bearing down on me as I move through the shipping lanes.”
FleetMon supports Zirk Botha’s adventure by sponsoring two S1-C GPS Vessel Tracker devices – one for his body and one for his boat. Intelligently designed for fixed and mobile assets, the weatherproof and compact-sized FleetMon S1-C GPS Vessel Tracker are made for all kinds of boat and object tracking.
“For safety and peace of mind, my 2 Fleetmon Trackers will be of paramount importance. With 1 fitted to the boat and the second to my body, I know that in an emergency it will be possible for a rescue vessel to locate me with pinpoint accuracy.”Zirk Botha, solo-adventurer
Botha will follow what is known as a Great Circle Route. “It’s not a direct route from Cape Town to Rio; I first head out in a North West direction to benefit from the prevailing South Easterly wind in Cape Town. After 1000km once I am north of the latitude of Lüderitz Bay in Namibia, and about 300 nautical miles offshore, I turn westerly so I can have the benefit of the wind behind me to take me across the Atlantic. On the Brazilian side of the Atlantic, the wind is North Easterly, so I have to arrive on the Brazilian Coast north of Rio to have the wind behind me to head into Cabo Frio, where the old Rio de Janeiro yacht club is, which is where I will be finishing.”
Ocean rowing is considered to be the ultimate challenge of human endurance. Botha will row an average of 14 hours a day.
Botha has trained extremely hard, but he stresses that the challenge requires endurance more than cardio-vascular fitness. “I’ve done intensive rowing plus weight and endurance training, but I know that my biggest challenge will not be physical, but rather mental.”
With a background in South African navy as a combat officer and extensive experience as an adventure sportsman, including sustaining and recovering from life threatening injuries, Botha believes his life experiences have effectively equipped him to do the row.
“The concept idea started growing in my mind about 4 years ago. In January 2019 I decided that it was time to start taking action. I procured the plans from a Naval Architect and with the support of a few initial sponsors could start the building process in August 2019. I have been training for the past 2 years + to condition my body to the physical requirements.”
He has built his boat ‘Ratel’, almost single-handedly, including installing all the equipment such as solar panels, navigational and satellite equipment, and a desalinator.
3 questions to Zirk Botha before his departure:
What’s your motivation behind the Row2Rio project?
“My life experiences have taught me that I am a person that achieves self-actualization through physical activity. When I am out of my comfort zone, I learn more about my strengths and weaknesses – This is a great driving factor behind the Row2Rio2020 Campaign. But I also wish to use the opportunity to create awareness for Sustainable Development and Responsible Consumerism. For my solo row from Cape Town to Rio de Janeiro I will be 100% self-sustaining for over three months. This provides a perfect showcase to support the message that 100% renewable energy is the solution. I will be totally reliant on solar panels and solar-charged batteries as the source of electricity for my water maker (desalinator), auto-pilot, safety equipment, radio and satellite communications equipment.”
What is your most important equipment?
For my survival my most crucial piece of equipment will be my desalinator, of which I have 2, an electrical one and a manual back-up. For communication I will have an Iridium Go Satelite Data connection, whilst for short range communication I have a VHF radio, equipped with an AIS and DSC facility. For safety and peace of mind, my 2 Fleetmon Trackers will be of paramount importance.
My equipment is powered by 270Watts of Solar Panels and 2 100AH, 12V batteries.
I will have food for 120 days. I anticipate completing the crossing in 100 days but will have extra incase of adverse weather. I will also carry 55 l of emergency water. General safety equipment includes a life raft, EPIRB, flares and smoke markers.
How has the Covid19 pandemic effected your project?
“The pandemic had advantages and negatives for me. Whilst I was in lockdown, I had an exciting project that I was working on; as I built the boat in my garden. On a negative, I ran out of epoxy, which set me back a few weeks, which then pushed the construction period into winter, with a delaying effect.”
Follow Zirk on his Instagram account for further updates on his Row2Rio adventure.
FleetMon wishes a safe trip!
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