Report from the Brian Curtis Mile

Fresh from his historic False Bay crossing, Ned Denison was keen to get a feel for the open water racing scene in South Africa. Last weekend, he took part in one of the country’s biggest events, the Brian Curtis Mile, one of the seeded events for the world-famous aQuellé Midmar Mile, the largest open water event in the world!

Ned performed exceptionally well in a race that included two South African national swimmers, Troy Prinsloo and Danie Marais, as well as other big names on the South African racing scene such as Phil Emslie. There were four 1 mile heats available to swimmers and Ned, like a good few others, decided to swim in all four, which were held back-to-back. In the first mile, he finished in 10th place (out of 167) with a time of 23:36 and was the fastest swimmer over the age of 30! In the second mile, he finished in 4th place (out of 50) with a time of 24:21. In the third mile, he finished in 6th place (out of 19) with a time of 25:00, and in the fourth (final) mile, he finished in 6th place (out of 17) with a time of 25:15. In every mile-long heat, he was the fastest swimmer in the 51+ age group, which isn’t so bad for an old man!

Troy Prinsloo is currently in Cape Town for his attempt to break the world record for the fastest crossing from Robben Island to the mainland. This is one of the four big solo swims that Ned has completed in South Africa over the last two years.

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Ned completes False Bay crossing…

Yesterday, Ned Denison became only the fifth person ever to complete the 35 km swim across False Bay, South Africa. You can read most of the details of the swim in my “as it happened” account of the swim (linked below) from yesterday. Also, Steven Munatones wrote a great article “Ned Denison Faces the Truth in False Bay” on his Daily News of Open Water Swimming blog. In this article, Ned explains how the swim became unexpectedly tough in the last few kilometres…

A very happy and prosperous New Year to everyone!

Ned Denison’s False Bay Swim LIVE

Read below for an “as it happened” account of Ned Denison’s historic swim across the infamous False Bay, South Africa. Ned’s unofficial swim time was 11 hours 5 minutes and he is only the fifth person ever to have completed this swim…

Image – Google Earth

The above Google Earth image shows False Bay with the starting point at Rooi-Els (east) and the finish at Miller’s Point (west). Ned’s approximate route is shown in red…

16:22 A huge thanks to Roger Finch of Cape Town who kept us all up-to-date on Ned’s progress in the absence of the SPOT tracker…

16:18 Ned’s unofficial time was 11 hours 5 minutes, a super time for a 35 km ocean swim! As an added bonus, Ned finished the swim with the same number of appendages with which he started it. What an achievement!

16:14 Ned Denison of the USA and Ireland has just become the fifth person ever to complete the 35 km crossing of False Bay, South Africa from Rooi-Els to Miller’s Point on the Cape Peninsula. Congratulations, Ned, on completing this astonishing challenge!

15:38 There must have been a miscalculation somewhere along the line: the pilot is saying that he estimates another 30 minutes before Ned finishes. Very exciting!

15:33 Roger says all of the phones on the boat are busy so it’s likely that he’s finished, just waiting for confirmation now…

15:15 Really close now! Ned has been swimming for 10 hours 10 minutes and is just 1 km from the finishing point. No currents or obstacles so he should be landing at Miller’s Point in about 20 minutes… Go Ned!

14:50 Just 3 km to go now, Ned is powering on! He is in the water almost 10 hours now and still going strong. Very exciting for everyone present…

13:30 Nearly 8 hours 30 mins elapsed now and Ned has just 7.5 km to go. Roger says that there is a lot of boat traffic at Miller’s Point at the moment but that will be cleared for Ned to finish. Dig deep, Ned!

12:25 With 7 hours 20 minutes elapsed, Ned has 24 km down and 11 km to go. Roger says that the water is still 19ºC and the conditions are very good. As he gets closer to the Cape Peninsula, he should be getting more shelter from the south-westerlies. Lots of good wishes come in from swimmers and non-swimmers from South Africa and the world.

11:00 I just got another update from Roger. He says that, just coming up on 6 hours into the swim, Ned has 15 km to go (so he’s over half way) and the conditions are still excellent with water temperatures over 19ºC all the time!

09:20 Ned has been in for 4 hours 15 minutes and has covered 15 km. He is battling a strong head-current but is swimming strong! Send the boat some encouragement using the #CmonNed if you can… Coming up on half way now!

08:00 After 2 hour 33 minutes, Ned had covered 11 km. Below is a photograph of one of Ned’s feed stops taken from the main boat, hopefully we will have more pictures as the swim progresses! You can follow my Twitter feed directly to the right of this post for more frequent updates…

Photograph – Roger Finch

Ned during one of his feeds in False Bay!

07:20 At 06:57 UTC (1 hour 52 minutes into the swim), Ned had 25.5 km to go. Conditions are holding and the water temperature is now an “unbelievable” 19.2ºC! On Twitter, you will be able to follow #CmonNed soon enough.

07:10 Just over 2 hours into the swim now and conditions look as though they will remain good for the rest of the day. Hopefully the current will change before long and Ned will get back to something nearer a 4 km per hour pace…

06:47 Sorry for falling asleep there! Last update from Roger is that Ned started from the agreed point at 05:05 UTC. Conditions at the start were good except for a slight swell and the water temperature has increased to 18ºC. He had 5 km covered 1 hour 30 minutes into the swim. There is a strong current against him but he is swimming strong.

04:20 It sounds, at the moment, like the boats are still on their way across to Rooi-Els. I’d hope to have confirmation of the start pretty soon. Roger Finch will be in contact with one of the pilots and will relay the updates to me. He kindly explained that the SPOT tracker isn’t working because they do not cover much of the southern half of Africa!

02:00 This post has just gone live automatically and, as far as I know, the swim is still going ahead as planned. When I spoke to Ned yesterday evening, he had already put on his sun protection and eaten his rather ominous sounding Last Supper! More updates will appear above (under the Google Earth image showing Ned’s progress) as they come in…

Update from Cape Town: Ned hopeful of False Bay attempt tomorrow morning…

The latest update from Cape Town is that Ned is “99% sure” that he will get to make his attempt to cross False Bay tomorrow morning. After a week of rather windy weather, a small window has appeared starting tomorrow morning. Conditions will be less than ideal but Ned is prepared and is conscious that he can’t wait in Cape Town indefinitely.

The planned start time is 06:00, I am not sure whether this is local time or Irish time. In any case, there’s only 2 hours in the difference so, if the swim goes ahead as planned, Ned will start at either 04:00 or 06:00 UTC tomorrow morning. Unfortunately, the SPOT tracker doesn’t seem to be working so we won’t be able to track Ned’s progress online. I’m hopeful of getting updates from Hugh Tucker, who will be on the support boat. If I do get these, they will appear on my Twitter feed (to the right of this post)…

Ned has been swimming regularly in False Bay over the last few days, both to prepare himself for the conditions and to become accustomed to the notion of having great whites in the water. Reports of a large shark in “knee-deep” water in Fish Hoek can’t be good for his nerves, but Ned doesn’t seem overly phased by this. He often reminds us that, in the HBF Rottnest Channel Swim in Perth, Western Australia, you are more likely to have your arm severed by the prop of one of the escort vessels than be attacked by a shark. That’s very reassuring, or maybe not!

Ned is ready to take on the Great Whites of False Bay…

Ned Denison is surely one of Cork’s, and indeed Ireland’s, most prolific open water and marathon swimmers, despite being a “blow-in” from Vermont! It is no surprise then that, having already completed the HBF Rottnest Channel Swim and the Catalina Channel, he is trying to squeeze one more iconic marathon swim into 2012. It is rare that any swimmer can take on a swim that the King of the English Channel, Kevin Murphy, was unable to complete. Kevin issued this daring challenge a few years back (along with a few others still on Ned’s list): the 35 km across False Bay, South Africa.

Photograph – Unknown

The view across False Bay from Cape Point.

Due to the unpredictable nature of the ocean currents on South Africa’s coasts, Ned will have to be prepared for temperatures of anywhere between 12ºC and 20ºC, and possibly big temperature variations during the swim! False Bay is rich in marine life due to a ban on netting, and feeding on the rich fish stocks are large numbers of Cape fur seals, including a breeding colony of 75,000 seals on Seal Rock. However, the Bay is more widely known for what feeds on the seals: a resident population of 200 great white sharks, surely the most beautiful and awe-inspiring marine predator…

Photograph – Unknown

The great whites of False Bay are known the world over for their impressive breaching behavior…

Ned leaves for Cape Town on Christmas Day, on what he claims is the only reasonably priced flight of the year. Once the weather comes right for the swim, he will meet local English Channel swimmer, Hugh Tucker of the Cape Long Distance Swimming Association, and his wife, who will both crew for him. They also crewed on Ned’s three South African swims last year, which included a 6 km swim around Cape Point and into False Bay. See the video here:

The video starts showing Hugh’s shark cage, built a few years back for this very swim.  Ned will not be using the cage, instead opting for a Shark Shield. This is a simple electronic device that creates a strong electric field in the water, the shark senses this through its highly developed ampullae of Lorenzini and is hopefully deterred by the unpleasant sensation.

Ned will also be using the Sandycove Island SC tracker, so we can all keep track of his progress during the swim. I will update with details of how to follow him once he gets confirmation of the swim date. It’s worth remembering that only four swimmers have ever completed this swim, we all wish him the best to become the fifth. In a calm, warm Catalina Channel this September, Ned covered the same distance in 8 hours and 50 minutes – it remains to be seen whether or not he’ll complete False Bay as fast…

Keep an eye on the blog for an announcement of the swim start and instructions on how to follow Ned’s progress online. In the mean-time, a very Happy Christmas!