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'World's toughest inflatable boat challenge' celebrates 27 years

PUBLISHED ON 28 DECEMBER 2014

It's called "the world's toughest inflatable boat challenge" and this year, the 27th annual Trans Agulhas Challenge will once again test man, boat and machine.

More than 30 teams have already signed up for the 2014 race, covering a distance of more than 650km in five days. Thirteen of these teams are first-time entrants.

This gruelling race, hosted by the Agulhas Inflatable Boat Club (AIBC), is due to start on December 28 in Plettenberg Bay and set to end on January 1, 2015 in Strand.

When Sparks Esterhuyzen, well-known resident of Hermanus, first came up with the idea of organising an inflatable boat race of this magnitude, it was dismissed by many who believed it would be an impossible, dangerous quest. This did not stop three inflatable boat teams from entering the first Trans Agulhas Challenge in 1988. Today, 27 years later, the race is as popular as ever with many teams entering year after year.

Each day the boats are expected to reach a number of check points on beaches along the route before proceeding to the finish point.

On day one, stage one (December 28), the challenge starts at Hobie beach and ends at Santos beach in Mossel Bay. The beach checkpoints on this stage are situated at Nature's Valley, The Waves, Brenton-on-Sea, Swartvlei, Wilderness, Glentana, Great Brak River and Little Brak River. Stage one is the longest in the race, spanning 188.5km.

On day two (December 29), the boats will have a beach checkpoint at Vleesbaai and Gouritz River Mouth before finishing at Stilbaai main beach. The total distance of stage two is 86km.

Day three (December 30), man and machine will be racing a distance of 161kms, stretching from Stilbaai to Struisbaai main beach, with a beach checkpoint at Witsand and Arniston / Waenhuiskrans in between.

Stage 4 spans a distance of 87 kilometers from Struisbaai to Uilenkraalsmond. The teams will have to check in at Die Damme and Pearly Beach before heading to the finish line. Stage 5 takes place on the same day between Uilenkraalsmond and Gansbaai – a distance of 24km.

The final stage of the 2014 Trans Agulhas Challenge over 113kms starts at 08:00 at Gansbaai Harbour. They will have to check in at Hermanus's old and new harbour and also stop at the following beaches: Hawston, Kleinmond and Pringle Bay. There's a check point on the harbour wall in Gordon's Bay too which the teams have to reach before they can head off to Strand where the winners of this year's race will be crowned. The first teams should reach Strand at approximately 10:00.

After each stage, the pilots and co-pilots have the opportunity to show off their skills at a King of the Waves competition, which is always a huge crowd pleaser.

Click here for more information and the expected time of arrivals at the beach stops and overnight stops.

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trans agulhas challenge, agulhas inflatable boat club, aibc, king of the waves
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