Zports Events in Port Elizabeth, South AfricaPosted on 4.15.12
Last weekend, Zports hosted two events in the Port Elizabeth Splash Festival in South Africa. Along with two other Americans, Jason Malick (above, second from left) and Denise Everett, I had the privilege of making the trip out for the 8K Bell Buoy Challenge and 1K Izani Siqubhe races in the Indian Ocean. The third event, the King and Queen of the Bay, an elimination swim where each round 4 competitors were knocked out, was unfortunately cancelled due to poor weather. This proved to be a smart decision by Michael Zoetmulder of Zports, as a thunder storm descended on Hobie Bay, creating unsafe conditions for an event of that nature.
Safety was of paramount importance at the festival and the courses of the 8K and 1K were littered with support craft. The out-and-back 8K had several boats and an abundance of paddlers and kayakers along the route. Although I did not have an escort, I was always within 100 meters of event staff and felt very safe, not to mention right on course. The conditions for the 8K were reportedly the best the event has seen in it’s 3-year tenure. We were not so lucky for the 1K the following morning, so the course was amended to two 500-meter loops so a closer eye could be kept on the swimmers. Even with the more protected course, the water was still incredibly choppy and it felt more like a mile than a K!
Aside from racing, the international swimmers were spoiled by Michael and the Zports crew. They took us to Kragga Kamma Game Park where we saw tons of game and got to pet cheetahs! We also had the humbling experience of being welcomed into a township for a youth drama performance and our hosts cooked a traditional South African meal for us, an evening I will ever forget. Finally, two South African swimmers, Tyron and Luke, took us to Jeffrey’s Bay to see Supertubes, a legendary surf spot. My pictures from the weekend are below: