VIDEO: Rowing their way from South Africa to New York


A South African couple intent on visiting New York City made the trip the hard way — rowing almost 6,700 miles over six months.

“It hasn’t really sunk in what we have achieved. No one has done what we have done in this six-month journey. We are happy and proud of what we achieved. You have to push even when the going gets tough,” Riaan Manser, 40, a professional adventurer, told IOL News in their native country.

The trip included stops in the Bahamas and Miami, but they said there were more than 133 days on the water with no support boat and 74 consecutive days with no land in sight.

The couple departed on their expedition, which they called TakeMe2NewYork, from Agadir, Morocco, on Dec. 30. They completed the journey last Friday, rowing their custom-built 22-foot ocean rowboat, named Spirit of Madiba after Nelson Mandela, into New York’s 79th Street Boat Basin.

“We’ve done a journey that no human beings have done,” Manser, who documented the trip on several mounted video cameras, told the New York Times upon their arrival. He said the journey took 1.8 million oar strokes, a figure that his longtime girlfriend, Vasti Geldenhuys, 36, quickly clarified.

“Each!” she said.

Leaving last month from Miami, they began what would be the last and most harrowing leg.

Particularly challenging was rowing through the Gulf Stream, which has voluminous commercial ship traffic.

“We didn’t know what we had in store. It was a horrendously difficult leg. The weather was so tough,” Manser said.


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