SA rower Thato Mabelane attemp

SA rower Thato Mabelane attempts record-breaking Atlantic Ocean row with Ubunye Trust

Former South African rowing team member, Thato Mabelane, will attempt a 30 day row across the Atlantic Ocean starting, Sunday, 17 January 2015, with seven other multinational rowers.

SA rower Thato Mabelane attemp

Thato Mabelane has set her sights on becoming the first African oarswoman to row across an ocean and the team has set their sights on breaking the World Speed Record for the fastest Atlantic Ocean crossing of 32 days.

“We are not only attempting to break records we are also aiming to raise R1.5 million for Early Childhood Development. The charities that will benefit are: the Ubunye Foundation, formerly known as the Angus Gillis Foundation, a rural development trust established in 2002 in response to the chronic underdevelopment in the Eastern Cape, South Africa and Bulamahlo Orphanage in East Johannesburg Tembisa, a relatively small charity, established in 1989,” said Mabelane.

“We are proud to be associated with the Ubunye Team. They have great commitment to their cause, both in terms of successfully rowing across the Atlantic and also raising money for Early Childhood Development. We are all rooting for their success,” says Lucy O’Keef head of the Ubunye Foundation.

Mabelane’s fellow rowers are:
Stuart Connacher
Julie Dunne
Caetano Da Cunha
Leven Brown
Don Lennox
James Robins
Nathan King

Ocean crossing

Mabelane and the crew will meet in Gran Canaria -Puerto Mogan, on 10 January 2015, and will row 5000km across the Atlantic Ocean to Barbados.

The crew will be skippered by world renowned ocean rowing skipper Leven Brown, who resides in Scotland. The crew will row in shifts of two hours on and two hours off for the duration of the row.

The crew will row in a 45 foot purpose built ocean rowing boat called Avalon, which should be able to withstand the conditions in one of the world’s most treacherous bodies of water, with waves of up to 50 feet. The boat has a carbon constructed mono hull that will self-right if capsized.

The eight crew members will share the cramped space aboard without ever leaving the boat, other than for a quick mid Atlantic Ocean dip in the sea. Each of the crew will get a daily ration pack containing three freeze dried meals and various snacks.

“The rest of the ration pack is made up of dried fruit, nuts and the biggest secret out – four chocolate bars, as we basically just need to get calories,” Brown explains.

“We’ll burn 8000 to 10,000 calories per day on the boat and we need to replace all that energy. Even with the ration pack we will be running on a calorie deficit.”

One of the team’s biggest challenges out in the open will be keeping themselves hydrated. According to Brown the temperature inside the cabin will reach up to 40-plus degrees during the day inside the cabin and quite chilly at night.

“In these conditions, the human body can only survive for four to five days in the tropics, without water, so it’s absolutely essential to our expedition.”

The team will have to make water daily utilising solar and wind power. The water maker is the most prized possession on board and to ensure it is always working there is also two back-up hand pumps on deck in case electricity is lost.

Mabelane and the crew are in good hands as Brown is no stranger to the sea as he has rowed five oceans, his longest row being 123 days.

The public can follow the crossing via a live GPS tracker. Closer to the departure date there will be a link to the live tracker on the Ubunye Challenge website:

About the Ubunye Challenge

The Ubunye Challenge was started in 2012 when Cameron Bellamy and numerous close friends chose to utilize their passion for endurance adventures by raising money for causes close to their hearts. They focus mainly on supporting education in rural Southern Africa. They have raised in excess of R800 000 to date.

The Ubunye Team have succeeding in completing a variety of endurance feats; namely a long distance cycle from Land’s End John o’Groats (UK – South to North), an open water solo swim across the English Channel and a world record breaking trans Indian Ocean Row. In 2012 the team completed a 24 hour rowathlon breaking four world records. 400 individuals took part from five continents. They continue to think up new adventures and raise funds for their chosen charities.

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