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Challenging the Bell Buoy- how it all started

The Bell Buoy Challenge is the toughest open water swim event in the Eastern Cape and invites swimmers to tackle the elements and swim 2.5 km straight out to sea in Algoa Bay and then back to the beach again.

Swimmers will have to overcome their own fears, test their physical endurance and deal with wind, tide and waves to successfully complete the Bell Buoy Challenge, which celebrates the 10th year anniversary in 2019.

The Bell Buoy was first conquered by Kyle Main, who did a double crossing in 2009, and made everyone realise that there was a legitimate open water swim in Algoa Bay.

Main, who had built a reputation on attempting long-distance solo open-water swims, found himself among a school of about 200 dolphins during his Bell Buoy swim.

“Dolphins are par for the course for long swims in the bay. The swim was slightly tougher than expected, especially due to the currents around the Bell Buoy and on the way back.

The wind was also not in my favour, being offshore (a westerly) at the time and I suspect an easterly would have been slightly easier, said,” said Main.

On the back of Kyle’s 2009 double crossing, the Bell Buoy Challenge was established as an 8 km open water swim by Mike Zoetmulder, a pioneering swim event organiser and former Bluewater Bay surf lifesaver.

The swim would  start at Hobie Beach – to the Bell Buoy – and return to Hobie Beach.

The Bell Buoy Challenge attracted international attention with Petar Stoychef, the fastest man across the English Channel at the time, flying to South Africa for the swim.

Veteren open water swimmer Brenton Williams was part of the crew who swam in the inaugural Bellbuoy Challenge.

“San Marie Voithe and I swam together in 2010. It was a cold, cloudy day with strong winds coming out of the west and there was some swell around,” recalled Wlliams.

“We swam a route directly from Hobie Beach out to the Bell Buoy and fortunately had a paddler with us as the sky and the sea had this grey look and we couldn’t see much.

Heading out to the Bell Buoy was fun but when we turned to swim back we swam into big chop and the shore was hidden from sight by the clouds.

It was quite a relief to see the red roofs of the Board Walk then eventually the Pier and to finish the swim,” added Williams.

bell buoy challenge

Some of the first swimmers to take on the Bell Buoy. Back: Brenton Williams, Ralph West, Greg Tucker, Russel Tucker, Richden Jute. Front: Kevin Grey, SanMari Woithe and Jack de Kort.

The 2012 Challenge was probably one of the wildest Challenges, with waves breaking over the reef at the Bell Buoy which eventually led to the swim route starting from Pollock Beach to the Bell Buoy and back, a more manageable and safer 5 km swim.

This year the Jendamark Bell Buoy Challenge forms part of the Open Water Swim Tour and takes place on 13 April 2019.

All entrants, who haven’t previously successfully completed the Bell Buoy Swim, need to prove their competency in ocean swimming events of this nature.

The age limit for the Bell Buoy swim is a minimum of 14 years of age and wetsuits are allowed.

For more information visit https://www.zsports.co.za/bellbuoy

 

 

 

 

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