Cape Town – Robben Island SUP and swim
15 SA Sisters SUP’d to Robben Island … and back one dreamy day…. Here is how Sister Alex saw the day…
“A close friend and I had an awesome realisation that we have joined the crazy people that get hooked on the endorphin rush of extreme sports…well extreme in our naive dewy eyes
We joined the prestige Sisterhood SA group and embarked on our first challenge…a 15km Stand Up Paddle (SUP) to Robben Island and back. About 15 girls trained with SUP champion, Greg Bertish, with the aim to complete the challenge to raise money for the Shark Spotters and Development Through Sport.
And the training begins…we committed to as much SUP time as possible and threw ourselves into the deep end (the choppy, sharky, murky depths of the Atlantic Ocean to be exact) and paddled our little hearts out. We paddled Muizies – Kalk Bay with a huge school of dolphins, under the skillful eye of Tyran from Xpressions on the Beach. After this a group of four considered ourselves pro’s (oh what a mistake) and hopped on our boards at Muizies. Chop and a swell of about 2ft (haha) crushed our newly inflated egos and tossed us head first into the shore break. Paddles to the left, boards to the right and hysterical laughter (cries from me) as we crawled onto the beach. Damn I thought we were goners, and shark breakfast that day. So we decided a peaceful paddle along Zandvlei would cure the battle wounds. Going there was such a gem – calm and gentle with stunning views of the mountains. Our return, however, was not as relaxed. The wind had picked up twenty-fold and was head on. Achey arms and exhausted bodies encouraged us to pull out all the stops, from creating a little “peloton” paddle pair to dragging our massive eleven ft boards along the thorny, bird poo covered river bank. We made it back after 2 hours. Hilarious….but not at the time.
Anyway all of this put us in great stead for the challenge which was perfect…minimal swell and wind, glorious day complete with dolphins, curious seals and a little penguin. We set off, enthusiastic and wide-eyed and paddled solidly for a good 3.5 hours, admiring our gorgeous Seventh Wonder and chatting and laughing along. We all high-fived (cos you have to after a challenge, dah) and patted ourselves on the back for raising 20 grand for our cause.
And now…we are hooked.
There are loads of events coming up and we are superrrrrrr keeeeeeeen! If you want to get involved check out Ocean Love and Xpressions on the Beach on Facebook.
You will love it…
Thank you to all the Sisterhood girls, Greg and Coreban, Tyran, Justin, Karina Figl, all the supporters on the day and behind the scenes and a huge and very special thanks to Kirsty who made this all happen.”
The Freedom Swim is one of the toughest, most extreme long-distance cold water sea swim races in the world – traditionally 7.5km from Robben Island to Blouberg, Cape Town. In May this year Sister Kirsty decided to brave the icy shark infested waters in what was The Sisterhood South Africa’s first local event!
Here is how she saw it…
The day of the race dawned and there was not a cloud in the sky! The boats were ready and the water was a warm 13°C – I still pinch myself saying it was warm but after training in 10.5°C to 13°C it is amazing how every degree counts. Supported by Sisters Lucia and Tiffany and partnered with an ex professional rugby player Guy, we set out on our boats to Robben Island for the start.
We had choices…
- 1. Teams of up to four members – naturally we chose just the two of us.
- 2. Wetsuits or no wetsuits – obviously not. Speedo, cap and goggles only for the purists.
- 3. Protective layer of Vaseline or not – what do you think?
Unfortunately the conditions deteriorated rapidly that morning. By the time we were positioned off Nelson Mandela’s old prison island there was a 25 knot wind, a 4 metre swell and three of the support boats had sank! We were still determined to swim but the organisers were forced to postpone the event until the following day when the NSRI were called to help two tankers that had bumped into each other while seeking refuge from the stormy seas.
With safety concerns and ominous weather conditions looming for the Sunday an alternative swim course had to be arranged. Little did we know that the new route would end up being longer, harder and a finger freezing 11°C (51°F) water temperature!
The race was intense and many swimmers did not make it to the end. In fact only one thirds of the solo swimmers and half the teams had what it took to cross the finish line. There were numerous swimmers treated for hypothermia and some shipped straight off to hospital. Thanks to the support of Sisters Lucia and Tiff I managed to stay on top of my game and loved the challenge the cold water posed. A slideshow of images showing Sisters facing challenges all over the world played in my mind as The Killers “Human” rang in my throbbing ears.. just like our promo video! After the race in the medical tent the doctors discovered my core temperature had dropped to 30.5°C.Theoretically one would be classified as moderately hypothermic. I felt surprisingly fine…perhaps supporting the perceived theory that Sisterhood girls are perhaps somewhat superhuman…or perhaps it had something to do with the winner, a strapping Bulgarian World No1 open water swimmer, personally interested in how I found the swim. Tough to say…
Anyway, somewhere on that hour and a half swim I was bitten by the bug. I am already excited to partake in the Robben Island route next year alongside fellow Sisters including Lucia and Tiff in the water. Until then you will find me on Camps Bay or Clifton beach a Sunday morning braving the icy water, dodging sharks, for a little training and the world best hangover remedy. See you there?
Thanks to Guy for kindly sponsoring our boat.