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Cape Town – South African rowing icon Riaan Manser and his Soweto rowing rookie, Fanafikile “Fana” Lehakha, narrowly escaped a life-
Pioneering explorer and record-
“Most large sea-
“Using simple VHF technology, this feature is almost a no-
“This was no good to us, considering we want to know when a 300m-
“We were 6km past the southerly point of Fuerteventura island (second largest of the Canary Islands). We had called our family to say goodbye and we were ready for the open ocean.
“We had earlier noticed a container ship south of our position, but took little notice of her as we completely trusted our AIS system to warn us.
“But it didn’t. And then the ship was almost on us. Our AIS system was not working. I’d like to say I made the correct call immediately. But I didn’t.
“My first comment to Fana was that we were going to have to suck this up and tackle the Atlantic crossing without AIS. Then it hit me just how wrong I was. If it was just me, alone, yes, then I had the right to decide this.
“But I now have someone else’s life in my care. Non-
“We had a technician assist us, painstakingly servicing every single cable of the boat’s electronics until he found a connector that had, with time, become dislodged. It was that simple. Now our AIS works.”
Lehakha had been chosen to row with Manser and cross the Atlantic Ocean in 45 days following an elimination process that sifted through 15000 entries from across South Africa.
Manser said Lehakha, who hails from the landlocked province of the Free State, had shown him that their odyssey was way bigger than just a rowing effort across an ocean.
“What I think, though, has been Fana’s biggest lesson thus far, is that an adventure like this is not a ‘plug and play’ experience. It has been a gruelling and stressful month here.”
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