After two days of scattered showers and windy conditions along the Southern Cape coast, the 35th edition of the Trans Agulhas Challenge – recognised as ‘the world’s toughest inflatable boat challenge’ – kicks off in Plettenberg Bay on December 28 at 8am.
Officially titled the Six Gun Grill Trans Agulhas Challenge powered by Iconic Mossel Bay, 35 crews set off from Plett’s Hobie Beach at 8am for the first of four action-packed race days, before finishing at Strand Beach on December 31.
On Day 1, after stops at Nature’s Valley, Knysna, Swartvlei, Wilderness, Glentana and Hartenbos, all boats should have hit Mossel Bay’s shores at Santos Beach by 12 noon. According to TAC organiser Stefan Lindeque, several fun activities are planned to entertain spectators in the run-up to the racers’ arrival.
But, he says, for competitors it’s serious business on the water indeed: “The weather needs to be super super extreme for us to cancel one of the legs. An example would be if the wind is really out of control, or there’s mist on the ocean that endangers the lives of participants.
“Conditions do not need to be perfect with flat seas and no wind – those elements are part of the event. It’s not known as the toughest inflatable boat race in the world for no reason, so 99% of the time we go ahead with the race no matter what the weather,” says Lindeque.
Medical teams are in place in case of emergency on the water. “Immediate Medical provides an ambulance service along the way, and its owner and MD Graydon Norton is our head safety officer, so all safety plans are in place for Trans Agulhas 2023.”
The six-stage 700km course leads from Plett to Mossel Bay (Stage 1 total distance: 188.5km), Mossel Bay to Stilbaai on Day 2 (Stage 2: 86km), Stilbaai to Struisbaai on Day 3 (Stage 3: 161km), and then on to the Strand finish line. On Day 4, the total distance covered is 223km (Stages 4-6) and the day’s three-tiered challenge will see boats racing via Uilkraalsmond and Gansbaai en route to Strand Beach.
First finishers are expected to arrive around 12 noon, and then the balance of this year’s 35-odd crews will moor their ducks for a well-deserved breather and closing ceremony. Apart from stage and class winners, the overall winner of Six Gun Grill Trans Agulhas 2023 will be the crew finishing the entire race in the shortest time.
So what’s in it for the winners? “Participants compete for the title – to win the trophy for being the first to complete the toughest race of its kind in the world. So there’s no big prize purse because the prestige is what’s at stake for the crew ultimately named the overall winner,” explains Lindeque.
In Mossel Bay, locals and visitors will join a braai-off from 8.30am onwards while they await the boats’ arrival. Around noon, the King of the Waves competition – a high-speed race sure to throw up lots of spray in the bay, and therefore an excellent spectator sport – will be kicking off in the bay.
Visit www.trans-agulhas.com for news on fun activations along the way and everything else you need to know about the Six Gun Grill Trans Agulhas Challenge, powered by Iconic Mossel Bay.