Somerset West resident Marc Gleed and his co-pilot Wiltas Leeuwner will again rev up their inflatable boat’s engine and take to the open waters to tackle the gruelling Trans Agulhas Challenge later this month.
The duo, who will be racing as Team BCR Arrow in the modified class of the event, will look to carry through and improve the form they displayed in this year’s South African ThunderCat Racing Series where they placed second overall in their class.
The 31st running of the popular inflatable powerboat challenge, which has been dubbed the toughest of its kind in the world, will start at Plettenberg Bay on Friday 28 December and finish in Gordon’s Bay on New Year’s Day. The five-day competition comprises six stages, covering more than 650 km.
The 45-year-old Gleed and Leeuwner, a resident of Langebaan on the West Coast, have been hard at work since the beginning of October, preparing for this their fourth effort as a team in the Trans Agulhas. “We have spent many hours on the water, especially at weekends, doing extensive distance training in preparation for the challenge,” Gleed says.
“But no matter how many hours you spend training or how you much you prepare yourself for the challenge, you can only really estimate where you will end on the last day of the competition – that is what makes this sport so exciting.”
Of course Team BCR Arrow will aim to end at the top of the podium at the end of the five days, but his nine years of participating in the challenge has taught Gleed that the competition is always unpredictable. “We will be putting in a huge effort to finish first in our class and, I must say, we have prepared better than our first three years as a team,” he relates.
“However, with the Trans Agulhas Challenge, a certain factor of luck comes into play and the links do not always fit the way you want them to. In the last two competitions, we had some misfortune when we had a fuel tank break in 2016 and we were hit by another boat last year.”
The first stage will see competitors take on the 188,5 km route from Plettenberg Bay to Mossel Bay, followed by the second stage from Mossel Bay to Stilbaai totalling 86 km. The stretch from Stilbaai to Struisbaai will make up the 161 km third stage, while the fourth stage is from Struisbaai to Uilkraalsmond (87 km) and the fifth from Uilkraalsmond to Gansbaai (24 km) will be held on the same day.
The final stretch will see the competitors tackle the 104 km sixth stage from Gansbaai to Gordon’s Bay. The finish point will be the Gordon’s Bay Old Harbour, veering from the traditional finish point of Strand Beach where the competitors have finished for about 28 years.
The reason for the change is not known, but it is one that was not taken by the race organisers, rather the City of Cape Town.
Despite the change in the finishing point, Team BCR Arrow is most looking forward to the final stage of the competition. “We have always favoured this leg as it is the one which determines the final standings,” Gleed explains, adding that every Trans Agulhas Challenge gives him an adrenaline rush.
“This is a really unique race, which is not only a great achievement to finish, but also great to win. Although I have not managed to win a class yet, having finished second one year, I am determined to make my mark and finish atop the podium.”V Team BCR Arrow will be sponsored by Arrow Underwriting Managers, Infanta Inflatables, Yamaha, Fuchs Lubricants, Quest Petroleum, Aquilla Game Reserve, Vega Graphics and Van Wyk Transport.
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