Big waves, strong winds and currents and 16 degree water did little to deter the 12 swimmers who took part in the first ever Shell Festival Sea Swim on Saturday morning in Jeffreys Bay.
Several swimmers decided not to swim as conditions were tough and the 2.5 Km route felt much longer as the swimmers were held back in the currents near the Magnatubes surf break.
Under the watchful eye of the Jeffreys Bay NSRI, the swimmers had to negotiate a big set of waves at the start and quickly discovered why surfers call the spot Boneyards.
The South West wind that was blowing strongly, created a lot of chop on the surface which meant that swimmers were regularly swallowing water on their way to the finish at Main Beach.
The 16 degree water affected some of the swimmers who battled with the cold as English Channel rules were applied to the race, which meant that only normal swim costumes, goggles and a swim cap were allowed.
Port Elizabeth swimmers PJ Duffey and Siegfried Lokotsch crossed the finish line together in a time of 38:05 with Jeffreys Bay swimmer Caro de Jager the first woman home in 41:35.
Rebecca Baard (12 years) from Jeffreys Bay was the youngest swimmer to take part in the inaugural Shell Festival Sea swim.
“Going through the beach break was scary as we got caught in a big set but some of the other swimmers stayed right next to me and we managed to get under the huge waves. After that the rest of the swim seemed quite easy and I settled down and enjoyed the race’, said Rebecca.
“It was an awesome swim and I will be back next year for sure”, said winner PJ Duffey, who with his surf lifesaving experience, relished the opportunity to swim past some world class surf breaks.
The swimmers had some time to enjoy the Shell Festival before meeting at Marina Martinique in the afternoon for a choice of a Mile, Double Mile or Triple Mile swim.
The strong wind and 18 degree water in the Martinique canals greeted the swimmers, with Cape Town swimmer Buff Van Westernbrugge the only one to take on the challenge of the Triple Mile after the rigours of the earlier sea swim.
Joel Carlse (10 years) swam his first Mile event and did well to cope with the heavy chop in the canals.
Caro De Jager capped a great day of swimming by winning the Mile in 26:48, with Richden Jute taking the honours in the Double Mile in 49:41, from Ralph West (50:40).
Jeffreys Bay Shell Festival Sea Swim results:
1. PJ Duffy/ Siegfried Lokotsch 38:05
3. Buff Van Westernbrugge: 41:30
4. Caro de Jager: 41:35
5. Kevin Grey: 41:45
6. Rebecca Newman: 46:21
7. Richden Jute: 46:25
8. Ralph West: 51:35
9. Kendal Wright: 55:35
10. Isabeau Joubert: 1:01:35
11. Brenton Williams (butterfly) 1:01:40
12. Rebecca Baard: 1:01:55