Port Elizabeth will confirm its status as the water sports capital of South Africa when the Open Water World Tour (OWWT) comes to town on the 13th of April.
The Jendamark Bellbouy Challenge will be the first stop on the OWWT which makes its way to the southern hemisphere for the first time in its history. The OWWT, which generally attracts swimmers from various European countries, will brace the shores of Nelson Mandela Bay for what is shaping up to be one of the most competitive swims of the year.
Two of the international swimmers that have been confirmed for the event are the 2018 men’s and ladies’ OWWT winners Xabier Gordoa Aspiazu and Andrea Fos Corbera. Both will be competing for the first time in South Africa and will have high expectations of getting the better of local favourites such as Paige Black, Amica de Jager and last year’s men’s champion, SA swimming legend, Gary Albertyn from Pretoria.
The main reason for the attraction of such a stellar field is the prodigious prize pool available at the event, which is billed as the Indian Ocean’s premier swim. Competitors will be fighting it out for their share of R76 000 with the men’s and ladies’ winners each taking home a cool R10 000 in cash. Prizes are allocated as far down as 10th place in each category. In addition to the cash prizes for overall winners, there are also a few special prizes awarded. Participants competing and finishing their 5th Bellbuoy Challenge as well as age group winners will receive a unique locally crafted South African wire replica of the bell buoy around which swimmers turn some 2.5km off the coast.
The 2019 event will be the 10th edition of the Bellbuoy Challenge and there are a select few competitors who have managed to qualify for and complete all ten. This is a tremendous feat considering the challenges which swimmers face when taking on the swim. Swimmers wanting to swim in the Jendamark Bellbuoy Challenge must prove their competency in an ocean swim over a similar distance. This is due to the ocean offering unique challenges like swells and currents which inexperienced ocean swimmers may find overwhelming. Last year saw stunning weather conditions for the event with flat seas almost all the way out to the bell buoy, however, this is not always the case.
A race briefing will be held at News Cafe at 6 pm on Friday the 12th of April for swimmers to become familiar with all the procedures for the race as well as to give all competitors a chance to meet and interact with one another while picking up their race packs.
With a sell-out entry and some of the best open water swimmers in the world present, the 2019 Jendamark Bellbuoy Challenge is set to make waves in Nelson Mandela Bay and indeed the world.
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