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The two were momentarily suspended in the air.
Underneath them the inflatable power boat roared forward at 80km/h.
“Somewhere along the line there is always a close call,” states the pilot nonchalantly.
Neither of the two could afford to fall off the boat if their aspiration of finishing first overall in the Trans Agulhas Challenge was to be realised.
It was day five of the world’s toughest inflatable boat race and they were knee-deep in the long haul.
Pilot Stefan Lindeque, and co-pilot Tony Ingram hoped the 131km stretch from Gansbaai to Strand would be calm and uneventful, but they also knew that power boating beyond the waves was never really “calm and uneventful”.
For 10km near Cape Hangklip their endurance was tested to the limits – this after they completed 188km on day one, 86km on day two, 161km on day three and 111km on day four.
“The stretch from Gansbaai to Strand is usually flat, but that day it was really challenging. The pounding water was extremely rough. After five days, 10km of pounding was the last thing we wanted,” says Table View’s Lindeque.
At that stage of the race they knew they stood a chance of not only winning their class, but also trumping the faster modified powerboat class – something that no-one has ever achieved before.
But if one of them was thrown overboard then the bid for this remarkable achievement would have to wait till next year.
After a moment that seemed to last an eternity, Tony landed on the boat again.
A split second later the airborne Stefan also returned to the inflatable Nulandis.
That was close…
He adds that day three of the Trans Aghulhas near Witsand is mentally the toughest.
“There is nothing on the beach. It is 70 km of nothing really!”
For Stefan, however, Cape Hangklip was the pinnacle of perseverance.
Once the ocean settled down there, the final stretch of the race was a little more bearable.
Since every second counted and the two could not switch off even for a moment, time seemed to drag.
Their muscles and bones were shaken and shimmied into mash, but their determination and adrenalin ensured the final push proceeded without a hitch.
Suddenly it was all over.
They reached the shore and were crowned the overall winners with a time of nine hours and 51 minutes.
“We were in a different class, and the modified class, which is faster than ours, always win the overall.”
This victory will taste sweeter than any of their previous ones, of which there are many.
The 41-year-old Stefan has been World Champion on three occasions and has never looked back in regret for choosing the sport in 1998.
“Having grown up in Melkbosstrand, surfing was always a great love of mine. Then I saw these boats that can actually race inside the surf line and was drawn to it. I’m just basically looking for any excuse to get into the ocean.”
Hours in the gym to strengthen his core muscles, arms and back has paid off many times, and it is clear that Stefan is a long way from hanging up his power boating boots.
The friendly rivalry between him and northern suburbs’ Wimpie Ackermann, as well as his insatiable desire to master the waves, will keep him pushing the limits.
***DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE WAS PUBLISHED IN TYGERBURGER, A CAPE TOWN BASED MEDIA24 COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER. IT MAY NOT BE DUPLICATED WITHOUT ACCREDITING THE SOURCE – TYGERBURGER, MEDIA24.***
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