Huisamen looking forward to his fifth Robben Island row 

 March 30, 2024

CAPE TOWN – The Prescient Freedom Paddle around Robben Island has become South Africa’s “must-do” surfski race, but the event is open to “all human paddle-powered craft”, and that means a sprinkling of “other” paddlers will be lining up on April 27.

One of those “others” on the start line at the Oceana Power Boat Club this year will be four-time finisher, Kobus Huisamen, who has accepted the challenge of the annual Freedom Day event in three different forms of ocean-going rowing boats.

“I’ve gone around Robben Island in this race four times … so this will be my fifth in 2024,” said the experienced Cape Town rower, before adding: “I just hope the weather is good,” in reference to his tough struggle to finish in 2023.

“I do it because I enjoy the challenge. The first time was in 2020 and since then I have been going back every year.

“My first one was in a quad called Tata, which I think it is quite significant to have gone around Robben Island in a boat called Tata. So it is with a crew of four people and a cox, and I think the average age in that boat was over 70.

“Then in 2021 I went in a skull – a single boat – just to take on a challenge of my own, and then in 2022 we went in Tata again. Last year was with Peet Botma in a double, which was probably the most hectic conditions we’ve had.”

Botma was using the Prescient Freedom Paddle as part of his training for the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, and he found last year’s severe weather conditions beneficial to his preparations for the tough race across the Atlantic from the Canary Islands to Antigua.

“Last year it was really challenging,” said Huisamen. “I mean, even the organiser were thinking about cancelling it, and our club was undecided whether we should go or not.

“Peet was preparing for the Talisker Whisky and he said he would go whatever the conditions were, and I said that was also my frame of mind.

“The double that we had is quite seaworthy and it can take on a relatively big swell, and so we thought ‘OK we’ll take the challenge.’ Peet was on stroke and I was sitting in bow, so I was looking out for the swell and basically would just shout to tell him to brace himself and then the waves would just crashed on us and then we carried on rowing.

“With our sport we are facing backwards, and in those conditions, navigation wise, it was quite challenging. We would get to crash through a wave, and then fit in a quick paddle to make sure you get in a bit of distance before the next wave crashes into you.

“It was like a valley of a 1 000 hills basically,” added Huisamen ruefully.

This event is open to all human paddle-powered craft that are seaworthy enough to complete the course, including surfskis, SUPs (stand-up paddleboards), prone boards, ocean rowing boats and ocean kayaks.

Entrants have the option of two distances: The majority of the field will tackle the full 27km route, which takes all competitors around Robben Island. However, for those paddlers and rowers not confident enough to take on the open-water crossing to the world-famous island, there is a shorter, 10km option. In this event the competitors will hug the shoreline past Mouille Point and Green Point to a turning buoy just off Sea Point, before returning back to the start/finish area at the Oceana Power Boat Club.

related posts:

Leave a Reply:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.
{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}