Wednesday, 23 January 2008 02:00

SA team wins Atlantic Rowing Race

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After 51 days at sea South African rowers Bill Godfrey and Peter van Kets have won the pairs division of the Atlantic Rowing Race 2007.

The pair reached Antigua Bay in the Caribbean just at 00:05 (GMT) this morning in their three metre boat, the Gquma Challenger. Gquma is a Xhosa word meaning ‘roar of the ocean’. The journey, which started on the 2nd of December in the Canary Islands, has seen the duo travel 2550 nautical miles (4 700 kilometres) across the Atlantic Ocean in what is considered the world’s toughest rowing race.

Godfrey, van Kets and team manager Dave Pattle all hail from the Eastern Cape. All three are keen water-sportsmen, with Godfrey being an experienced award-winning rower and Kets bringing his highly competent navigation skills to the team.

Pattle, a qualified attorney and manager of a labour relations consultancy, previously rowed alongside Godfrey in numerous crews, and was drawn to the challenge of managing and supporting the team through this arduous journey.

According to the team’s website, Godfrey’s reason for taking on this challenge is much like the reason mountaineers tackle Mount Everest, “it’s there and it has to be done”.

First held in 1997, the biannual Atlantic Rowing Race is a challenging rowing competition that sees teams of four, pairs and solo rowers brave the tumultuous and unpredictable waters of the Atlantic Ocean.  Twenty-three teams are competing in the 2007 race.

Throughout the journey the Gquma Challenger was followed closely by British pair, No Fear, who crossed the finish line just five hours after the South Africans. The winners in the Fours Division were Pura Vida (UK) who crossed the finish line on Sunday afternoon.

According to Woodvale Events, the organisers of the race, participants in the event join the elite few who have taken on the ocean in a rowing boat, with more people having gone into space or climbed Mt. Everest, than have rowed across an ocean.

Teams have to propel themselves across the ocean, and are required to be self sufficient in the process, carrying all their food and supplies with them. Any outside assistance counts for immediate disqualification.

To pass your congratulations on to Team Gquma visit the team’s official website.

Published in Sports Range

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