Bucking ducks!

0

Trans Agulhas 2012/13

The annual Trans Agulhas race is renowned for being the toughest inflatable challenge in the world – and not to disappoint, the 2012/13 was probably the most death defying for all the teams, taking its toll like only this race can. Blow by blow, the teams fought the uphill battle to see who would reign supreme! The seasoned inflatable boat racer, Steyn Basson, takes us through this year’s event.

This year marked the 25th year of the gruelling Trans Agulhas challenge. With politics now something of the past, the teams all looked forward to this icon of powerboat racing. The management knew that this year would be challenging with the transition, but nevertheless gave it their all to make this expensive and legendary race possible. This year will also be known for the return of international teams after an eight year absence – something that had the racing fraternity very excited.

Day 1 (28th December 2012)
Plettenberg Bay – Mossel Bay 186km (Average to rough conditions). The first leg of the Agulhas is probably the most important of the whole race. Experienced teams will tell you that you will not win the Agulhas on the first day, but you can lose it. Conditions will always be flat in the bay racing up to Nature’s Valley where the teams will do their first, and only, left hand, downbeach stop. Teams often get puzzled because of the flat conditions and go for a quicker prop, only to realise their mistake when rounding Robberg Point. The nine beach stops with regular big surf is also a deciding factor.

The Norwegian team of Sigurd Mollestad and Elen Mollestad (Olsen Bygg/Serlandets Billsenter) were off to a flying start and got to the first beach stop first in the P750 Blue Print Class, closely followed by Stefan Lindeque and Tony Ingram (Team Nulandis/ Aquarius/Boost Performance Racing) and Trans Agulhas veteran Dreyer van Niekerk/Floris de Kock (Rusgenot Transport). Team Nulandis and Rusgenot then passed the Norwegians and left the rest in their spray, fighting all the way to the finish with Stefan and Tony taking the win with only a few seconds on Team Rusgenot. Unfortunately for the Norwegians, they flipped on the beach during a beach stop and did not finish the day.

Dave Barnett and Tjaart Oosthuizen (De Walt/Battery+/Supa Quick/Auto Magic) again made it look easy by finishing first at Santos, leaving the rest of the modified teams in their wake. Eben de Bod and Gerhard Fernhout (Team Robertson Abattoir) also managed to fend off Jacques Matthee and Michael van Geems (Team Van Loveren), taking the top spot in the standard class while Peter Groenenstein/Odette Maytham (Valuemax/Excel Parts/Amigos) took the win in the novice class.

Day 2 (29th December 2012)

Mossel Bay – Still Bay 86km (Fair conditions). The second day is a short sprint with only two beach stops, but the conditions usually deteriorates in the last 30 km, battering the sore bodies coming into Still Bay. Dave and Tjaart again dominated the Modified class by not making any mistakes. In the Print class, Team Rusgenot made a big mistake, jumping a big wave coming into the first beach stop at Vleesbaai, flipping the boat in the process. They managed to get the motor going again, only to finish the leg way down the order. This opened the door for veteran Wimpie Ackermann/Whitey Louw (Team Imperial Cargo) who attacked and claimed the first place at the finish. Eben de Bod and Gerhard Fernhout again rode flawlessly to finish first in the Standard class while in the Novice, Peter Groenenstein and Odette Maytham reigned supreme. Day 3 (30th December 2012) Still Bay – Struisbaai 161km (Rough conditions).

This leg is known to have a short cut or two which separates the top teams from the rest. This really long leg with only two beach stops usually ends up being the decider. When passing around Cape Infanta, the route takes you past the De Hoop Nature Reserve. The water then turns into a “Lemon Twist”-like light green which is extremely difficult to read. An inability to judge the water sometimes catches the teams off guard, resulting in flips, cracked ribs and broken equipment. When you finish in Struisbaai, the okes usually say that now you are “going home”, meaning that the worst is behind you.

Disaster struck for the team of Jacques Matthee and Micheal van Geems when their boat took a nosedive and Jacques landed on Michael’s leg, resulting in torn knee ligaments. Micheal finished the last 20 km’s, but had to withdraw. Luckily, Japie Swart helped the team out, taking the front seat in the boat for the last two days. Again the win went to Dave and Tjaart in the Mods, Eben and Gerhard in the Standards and Peter and Odette in the Novice. In the Print class, Dreyer and Floris went well taking three minutes from Wimpie and Whitey to win the day. Day 4 (31 December 2012) Struisbaai – Hermanus 133km (Very rough conditions).

Day 4 is the most technical leg of the Agulhas, with dangerous short cuts, shallow reefs and huge swell resulting in enormous breakers. The team of Rikus Roux and Guillaume Gillomee (Team Fidelity Security) were part of the front runners when they flipped their boat in the huge breakers while exiting from Pearly Beach. They got the motor going again, but flipped again! This time, the team got separated from the boat. Guillaume’s brother, JB, who is part of the land crew, went into the water and tried to drag the boat to shore. The current got hold of him and swept him out to sea. Lifeguards lost him in the big surf, but luckily one of the spectators on the hill spotted him and directed the lifeguards. Due to excellent training, Pieter van Schoor and Johan Otto made a heroic rescue attempt on JB who later said that he would definitely have drowned… The Norwegian team struggled in the rough conditions and missed the cut off time, disqualifying them from the race. The team of Dreyer and Floris (Team Rusgenot Transport) rode insanely and finished first in Hermanus. Dave and Tjaart had more than 15 minutes on their nearest rivals and decided to take it easy in the very rough conditions. They still managed to finish first in the Modifieds. Eben de Bod and Gerhard Fernhout ran into trouble when they twisted the crank and could not finish the leg. Jacques and new co-pilot, Japie Swart, sneaked in their first stage win. Peter and Odette also continued their form and kept the rest of the novices behind them.

The usual night shift from Gansbaai to Hermanus was cancelled due to rough sea conditions. Day 5 (1 January 2013) Hermanus – Strand 141km (Extremely rough conditions). The last leg starts with the teams in the Novice. In the Print class, Dreyer and Floris went well taking three minutes from Wimpie and Whitey to win the day. Day 4 (31 December 2012) Struisbaai – Hermanus 133km (Very rough conditions). Day 4 is the most technical leg of the Agulhas, with dangerous short cuts, shallow reefs and huge swell resulting in enormous breakers. The team of Rikus Roux and Guillaume Gillomee (Team Fidelity Security) were part of the front runners when they flipped their boat in the huge breakers while exiting from Pearly Beach. They got the motor going again, but flipped again! This time, the team got separated from the boat. Guillaume’s brother, JB, who is part of the land crew, went into the water and tried to drag the boat to shore. The current got hold of him and swept him out to sea. Lifeguards lost him in the big surf, but luckily one of the spectators on the hill spotted him and directed the lifeguards. Due to excellent training, Pieter van Schoor and Johan Otto made a heroic rescue attempt on JB who later said that he would definitely have drowned… The Norwegian team struggled in the rough conditions and missed the cut off time, disqualifying them from the race. The team of Dreyer and Floris (Team Rusgenot Transport) rode insanely and finished first in Hermanus. Dave and Tjaart had more than 15 minutes on their nearest rivals and decided to take it easy in the very rough conditions. They still managed to finish first in the Modifieds. Eben de Bod and Gerhard Fernhout ran into trouble when they twisted the crank and could not finish the leg. Jacques and new co-pilot, Japie Swart, sneaked in their first stage win. Peter and Odette also continued their form and kept the rest of the novices behind them.

The last leg starts with the teams departing from the Old Harbour to Gansbaai, turn around at the checkpoint, go back to Hermanus, and then continue down the coast to finish in The Strand. In the Modifieds, Dave and Tjaart just had to keep the boat upright to claim yet another victory. In the Print class, Wimpie and Whitey had a three-minute lead on Dreyer and Floris who took no prisoners in their pursuit to win the class. The team racked up a healthy lead over the rest but pushed too hard and flipped at Betty’s Bay, taking them out of contention. The experience of Wimpie showed as he cruised to yet another Trans Agulhas win, his 12th win in 21 races! The Russian team of Dmitri Krylov and Leny Ningui (Team Russia/ Gemini) had a great experience up until the final beach stop. They made a terrible navigational mistake and went straight over False Bay towards Cape Point. Meanwhile, organisers became worried about the team who failed to check in and summoned the NSRI and Air Force to launch a search-andrescue operation. Finally, the team ran out of fuel and ended up close to the Waterfront, sunburned and extremely tired. Bystanders phoned the organisers and the rescue operation was aborted. In the Standard class, Christiaan Kriel and brother Wardo Kriel (Team CK Transport) won the leg, but could not make up for lost time. Jacques Matthee and Japie Swart had a healthy lead with Eben and Gerhard who seized their motor, while the Van Loveren team just had to nurse the boat home to take the overall win. Peter Groenenstein and Odette Maytham lost all their competitors in the Novice class due to breakage and or disqualification and took the leg and overall win comfortably. “In the many years and over 16 500 km I’ve done, this was probably the worst sea conditions I’ve ever experienced. The Agulhas is not easy, and being well prepared, fit and focused, we managed to bag another win”, said Wimpie Ackermann.

“We underestimated the toughness of the world’s toughest inflatable boat race! We enjoyed the experience and will definitely be back next year with two more teams”, says Sigurd Mollestad. “By being steady and patient, we pulled off another win. We are thankful for the support of our sponsors and we will see you again next year!”, claimed Jacques Matthee. And lastly, from the Modified winners, “We would like to thank our sponsors for making it possible for us to win for the 9th time. We will also be back next year to retain our title.” – Tjaart Oosthuizen.


1021 Visits

Post Your Comment

*

Join our free mailing list

preloader