Jonathan Ham is a South-African sailor, who competed, and won first place monohull and third place overall, in the third year annual Cape2Rio 2020 race. PDBY spoke to Ham about his latest achievements, preparations and journey.
What does the Cape2Rio race entail?
It is basically a race from Cape Town to Rio de Janeiro over the Atlantic Ocean with many international boats competing. Depending on the wind, it can take up to 21 days or longer to cross a distance of about 4 500 nautical miles that started on 4January.
What team did you compete in?
My team was called JM Busha 54. We were six students from various universities in this team and sponsored by Joseph Makamba Busha of the JM Busha Investment Group (PTY) Ltd, and raised awareness of peace and unity in Africa throughout the race.
How intense was the preparation?
We basically spent the whole of 2019 rebuilding the boat from its foundations. From there it was moved to Durban in August, and to Cape Town in December, where we spent the whole December finalising everything on the boat. This ranged from simple tasks as cleaning all kitchen supplies, food stocking to installing the GPS system. It was very intense and attention was given to every small detail of the boat. Individually it was also important to stay in good shape and be healthy for the journey ahead.
How did the race go?
The first week was very light wind conditions, allowing us to only move small distances at a time. Thereafter we caught mild winds and at the end found ourselves in a tropical cyclone called Kurumi. It was a race of extreme opposites from no wind towards extreme conditions and tested all our capabilities.
What do you remember the most?
There is so many things, from dolphins to the most amazing sunrises and sunsets. We once even had an attack of flying fish on our boat. What I actually remember best is actually the spirit of our team. Whenever we felt hopeless and far from land, we would begin to sing songs ranging from “Queen” to “Mamma Mia” and instantly the spirit awoke new physical energy and hope on the horizon.
How would you describe this journey to someone?
It is actually indescribable, something you have to live through to understand. Crossing an ocean on a small boat, with limited space and nowhere to go launches a battlefield against yourself, because it tests every aspect of your character and your resilience to overcome. It is you, your team, and your boat against the powerful force of nature.
What would you say to someone that would like to do this?
Do it, but don’t expect to come back as the same person. It changes your life, creates a whole other world out there, without technology and resources. It gets you back to the basics and it teaches you about yourself. Every person on this earth should embark on an adventure like this once in a lifetime and you will definitely not regret it.