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September 14, 2004

Solo sailor heading for record achievement

From: Business Day, South Africa, South Africa - Sep 14, 2004

By Lew Elias

After a dramatic episode in his bid to become the first deaf person to circumnavigate the globe solo, East London sailor Charl de Villiers made a landfall in South Africa yesterday.

But it was not in Cape Town, as originally planned, but in Durban after a fierce storm 10 days ago damaged his yacht, aptly named the Silent Voyager.

Charl's journey started on March 13 this year in Palacios, Texas, in the Gulf of Mexico. In the second-last stage of his voyage, he was sailing to Cape Town when the storm - with winds of up to 40 knots and 12-metre swells - forced him instead to head for Durban.

Despite the difficulties, including a damaged rudder, the lone sailor made the harbour there early yesterday and by last night had already carried out repairs.

His father, East London businessman Johan de Villiers, and two of Charl's brothers, Francois and Christo, were in Durban to greet the intrepid sailor.

"We have managed to get most of the equipment repaired and Charl has taken us on a cruise around Durban harbour. Now we are relaxing with a beer," his father said last night.

Charl expects to leave Durban later this week to come down the coast to East London to visit his family, although, depending on the weather, he may head straight for Cape Town.

He set a record on September 1 last year when he and 13 other deaf people completed a mass parachute jump that made the Guinness Book of Records.

Eastern Province Herald

© 2004 Business Day, South Africa