FEEL GOOD | Zirk Botha returns to SA after making record 7 200km solo row from Cape Town to Rio

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Zirk Botha at the Cape Town International Airport on Monday, with his daughters Mieke (left), Ruby (middle) en Elle (right).
Zirk Botha at the Cape Town International Airport on Monday, with his daughters Mieke (left), Ruby (middle) en Elle (right).
Jaco Marais
  • World record holder Zirk Botha has returned home after completing a transatlantic row.
  • The journey was completed in a new world record of 71 days.
  • Botha completed the journey unsupported and alone.

Extreme adventurer Zirk Botha has returned home after completing a world record 7 200km solo transatlantic row from Cape Town to Rio.

Botha arrived in Cape Town on Monday, after leaving on 19 December 2020 for Brazil. He was met at Cape Town International Airport by his family and supporters.

READ | Fanafikile Lephakha spent 45 days rowing across the Atlantic - here's what he learnt about isolation and himself

The solo transatlantic ocean crossing, on his boat "Ratel", was completed in 71 days and Botha rowed into Cabo Frio on Sunday 28 February.

"I completed a solo row across a route that is extremely remote, in a boat I built myself, and I had no safety back-up boat as in organised races. As a solo rower I had to deal with all physical, mental and emotional challenges without support or relief. I had to navigate 24/7 with no one else to keep a visual lookout for ships or changes in weather conditions while I slept," Botha said.

The adventurer was unable to sleep for long periods, and became sleep deprived. 

"When I was not rowing I had to eat, desalinate water, clean the hull and do general boat maintenance, which also impacted on the time I had available to rest," he said.

Botha now holds the world records for the first South African to row the south transatlantic route alone and unsupported by any safety craft, and for the fastest row from Cape to Rio.

A similar route was previously completed by South African duo, Wayne Robertson and Braam Malherbe, in 92 days, in 2017.

Brazilian Amyr Klink crossed the South Atlantic solo in 1984, on a slightly different 3 700nm route rowing from Namibia to Bahia over 100 days.

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