Intrepid Seven Cross The Cape, Round Recife

Intrepid Seven Cross The Cape, Round Recife

Information courtesy of Brenton Williams. Photo of PJ Duffy and Rudi Schoeman by Dirk Erasmus.

Photo of Brenton Williams by Clive Wright.

This last Saturday in South Africa, PJ Duffy, Rudi Schoeman, Iain Geddes, Kevin Grey, Brenton Williams, Richden Jute and Ralph West pioneered a rounding of Cape Recife, the most southeastern tip of the African continent.

This is the first time it has been rounded by swimmers adhering to [English] Channel rules,” explains Brenton Williams. “It has been sanctioned by the Cape Long Distance Swimming Association.”

The southern coastline of the vast African continent is guarded by Cape Point on the southwestern tip and by Cape Recife on the southeastern tip. This coast was discovered 600 years ago by the Portuguese explorers Bartholomew Diaz and Vasco da Gama while they were seeking a sea route to the spice markets of the East.

Largely uninhabited, this coastline between the modern day cities of Cape Town and Port Elizabeth gained a reputation for being exceedingly beautiful and teeming with wildlife,” describes Williams. “The western tip became known as the Cape of Good Hope by those who found favourable weather conditions when sailing around the headland, while those less fortunate gave it the name Cape of Storms.”

600 years after the discovery of the Cape sea route, sailors of yesterday would not have believed their modern-day adventurers would similarly seek to round these Capes by swimming, propelled by nothing but swimwear and their own spirit.

American swimmer Lynne Cox was the first to swim around Cape Point in 1977. Since then, an estimated 40 swimmers have taken on the Cape of Storms to successfully swim into False Bay and conquer a headland that is surrounded by cold water and big waves.

38 years after Cox’s inaugural triumph, a similarly minded group of swimmers from the Eastern Cape province of South Africa successfully rounded Cape Recife. Adhering to Cape Long Distance Swimming Association rules, the septet took on the 11 km swim in near perfect conditions with 21°C water and glassy conditions.

It was only when we got to the Cape Recife headland that we encountered a strong counter current that saw the swimmers having to up their game and fight though the current,” said PJ Duffy, the organiser of the swim.

The swimmers broke into two groups, each being accompanied by a boat and a paddler and the second group was buzzed by a shark, shortly after rounding Cape Recife,” recalled Williams. “Under the watchful eye of experienced support paddler Terry Olivier [shown above], the 2-meter shark was deemed to be non-threatening even though it followed the swimmers for quite a distance.”

But true to the spirit of the hardened South African open water swimming community, none of the swimmers were about to let currents or wildlife get in their way of successfully rounding Cape Recife.

Final times:
*PJ Duffy: 3 hours 17 minutes
*Rudi Schoeman: 3 hours 18 minutes
*Iain Geddes: 3 hours 21 minutes
*Kevin Grey: 3 hours 23 minutes
*Brenton Williams: 3 hours 33 minutes
*Richden Jute: 3 hours 34 minutes
*Ralph West: 3 hours 34 minutes

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association