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Former naval combat officer, Zirk Botha, will take on the mammoth task of rowing solo across the Atlantic from Cape Town to Rio de Janeiro, in a bid to raise awareness on climate change and the benefits of creating a positive, sustainable future.

Rowing the Atlantic is no small feat and requires tremendous physical and mental endurance. Botha will spend approximately 90 days rowing over 7000kms (3800 nautical miles) unaccompanied through unpredictable waters.

The earth needs our help.

Botha said, “I want to use the challenge to spotlight the impact of fossil fuels and irresponsible consumerism on the planet which is the future home of our children and future generations. Renewable energies are essential to a sustainable future.”

He will be entirely reliant on solar-powered batteries for three-months, which will power his watermaker (desalinator), auto-pilot, safety equipment, radio and satellite communications equipment in demonstrating that clean, safe and renewable energy is a viable option.

As the Economic Development Manager at juwi Renewable Energies South Africa, Botha is knowledgeable and speaks confidently on costs, job creation and practical benefits of renewable energy. He hopes that his ocean crossing challenge will emphasise the message that increased uptake of renewable energy is crucial to the climate change challenges faced by our planet.

Support for a sustainable planet.

juwi Renewable Energies South Africa is sponsoring Botha’s venture, with a vision of “100% Renewable Energy” the company supports Botha’s cause of creating a more sustainable environment.

Managing Director of juwi South Africa, Greg Austin, said that the company is backing Botha’s initiative as it epitomises the way juwi is taking the lead in innovation and breaking barriers for the environment. “We wish Zirk all the best for the row – his pioneering spirit, courage, grit and commitment to the environment are qualities that juwi respects and fully aligns with,” added Austin.

More people have climbed Mount Everest than have crossed an ocean in a rowing boat.

Ocean rowing is one of the most incredible feats of strength in human endurance. It requires tremendous mental and physical wellbeing.

Botha has been undergoing extensive training in preparation for the ocean row and feels that his biggest challenge will not be physical, but rather mental.

With no supporting safety boat, Botha will row for 14 hours a day on average, with an estimation of just over 100 days to complete the crossing to Rio. The energy requirements are significant and staying well-hydrated is very important.

“I will probably consume 10 litres of water and 8000 calories of food per day. A normal person consumes approximately 2500 calories a day. Even so, I expect to lose over twelve kilograms crossing the Atlantic.” – said Botha.

Honey Badger of the Ocean.

The boat has been named “Ratel” which is Afrikaans for honey badger, an animal known for its courage and tenacity.

The construction of the ocean rowing boat is centred on the innovative design of Phil Morrison, an esteemed naval architect.

Botha has independently built most of his boat and has just completed installing equipment including solar panels, maritime and satellite equipment, and a desalinator. While he trains with his rowing coach, Derrick Read from the Cape Coastal Rowing Club based in Simon’s Town, the boat will undergo a safety test done on open water to obtain an all-clear to set sail.

Who is Zirk Botha?

Botha served as a Naval Combat Officer as well as a Combat Diver in the South African Navy where he completed three Atlantic crossings during his time in the Navy. He holds a 200T Yacht Captain (Master of Yachts) qualification and has considerable experience of sailing.

He is also a brain trauma survivor who lives a life seeking adventure and hopes that his Row2Rio2020 challenge will inspire people to move beyond their comfort zones.

Botha is scheduled to set sail in December 2020.

Originally written by Lucinda Dordley, Cape Town Etc


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