Robben Island Dragon Boat Challenge SA
SISTERS PADDLE TO ROBBEN ISLAND thanks to Support from Investec Asset Management and Glider Eyewear.
This is proof that dreams do come true!
In June 2012, 19 of South Africa’s finest Sisters and Coach Marty made history by paddling a dragon boat to Robben Island and back… The 27km round trip off the world’s finest coast to its most sentimental island was an incredible journey of friendship, perseverance and success.
It was a symbolic adventure on so many levels…. This was the first big adventure the SA Sisters had committed to do…it had never been done before…. it mimicked the Channel Crossing that was Sisterhood UK’s founding adventure….. and for me personally having returned from nearly a decade in the UK the “Freedom Crossing” represented my pride in being South African.
Just one year before the idea was propositioned to Coach Marty over pink champagne and under batting eyelashes. We will never know if it was the feminine adoring charms or the concept of the epic adventure that had him weak at the knees but he said yes immediately.
Over the months that followed the intricate details were planned, Dragon boats borrowed, consent obtained and extensive training was underway. It is amazing what group of enthusiastic girls can get done and how many rules can be bent… With the help of the WCDBA we obtained permission from Steven Bentley and Port Control to leave the magnificent V&A harbour and were allowed to cross the international shipping lane… we had support from the NSRI and SAPS Diving Unit and were granted permission to enter the prohibited waters and enter Robben Island’s Murray harbour in style. Sponsors Glider Eyewear and Investec Asset Management came on board with gusto and we were set!
The Cape is renowned for its great shark community, unpredictable conditions and wild freezing waters. All our standby days in November were met with angry ocean conditions and wild winds. We had to postpone until after the dreaded South Easters to the following May where again we were humbled by the weather. One attempt had us surrounded by mist so thick that visibility was reported at less than 1meter… not ideal when you are crossing the direct line of many a container ship. Then luck struck! On the very final day we had set aside we woke to the most perfect dawn. Swell was just 1.7m, a gentle breeze kept the mist at bay and we were ready to make history!
Flanked by Alon and Morgan in their support boats with rocking tunes, snapped at by Ryan – Soft Focus Media and cheerled by appropritately skimpy dressed support sisters we set off for our dream.
In an auspicious exit from the V&A we were met by the first of our 2 magnificent whale sightings. The ocean seemed alive in its support of us, birds circled, seals rolled over playfully, penguins frolicked.. and that was just on the surface.
Within no time we were whooping our arrival to Robben Island and after a brief rest focussing on eating and re-hydrating and obviously embracing the opportunity for a photo shoot we headed back to our Mother City.
Champagne spray, news teams, photographers, ecstatic friends and hundreds of confused tourists witnessed our return to blasting “We are the Champions”. Massive blisters wern’t noticed, strained muscles didn’t feature and we felt high on our success!
From there it was straight to the bar where pink champagne toasts brought the dream full circle.