Where – and how – it all began
The idea started with Sparks Esterhuyzen, well-known inhabitant of Hermanus and still involved with training just-out-of-school young people at See- and Sand, Hermanus. By then Sparks had already rowed 5 times around the most southern point of South Africa, the longest being with a canoe from Nature's Valley to Cape Town (± 700km).
He shared the idea with Jean Engelbrecht from Stellenbosch. Jean conveyed this to his Inflatable Boat Club members and after a meeting or two, they decided to do this route in their Inflatable Boats. Thus, the Trans Agulhas Inflatable Boat Challenge was born.
It was not as easy as just that. When "Die Burger" – a local Afrikaans Newspaper and the first sponsor – first announced the Challenge, every one said it was too dangerous and couldn't be done. Nobody gave any notice and just went about their business of organizing the first Trans Agulhas Challenge.
On the 26 December 1988 thirty three boats started the first Trans Agulhas Challenge at Nature's Valley. The finish was at the Old Harbour, Hermanus on the 3rd January 1989 and everyone agreed that the Trans Agulhas Challenge came to stay. It is impossible to tell all that happened on the first Trans Agulhas Challenge. A very thick book will have to be written one day to convey all the tales. Interesting to know, is that the organizing committee consisted out of 5 members. Between them they had 2 vehicles, of which 1 broke down at Vleesbaai.
Today, the Trans Agulhas Challenge is a world class event, hosted every year by Agulhas Inflatable Boat Club (AIBC). The Trans Agulhas Challenge has started the Long Haul events hosted by SAIBA and other boat clubs. The design of the Inflatable boat has changed over the years, and we believe that it is because of the Trans Agulhas Challenge, testing man, boat and machine alike. There is just no other challenge like it.