25 July 2011
HENLEY ROWER is to take part in a 1,000-km charity row down the Upper Zambezi, a feat never before accomplished in a rowing boat.
Antonia Van Deventer, who rows for Upper Thames, is going to Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia, with a team of 20.
The expedition route will begin at the Angolan border and finish at Victoria Falls.
The challenge, which is being funded solely by those taking part, starts at the end of July and will last about two weeks. The team hopes to row between 60 and 70km a day.
Antonia said: “I’m massively excited on many levels. It is the most amazing opportunity and has never been done before.”
“I grew up in Zambia. For me, I’m going home. I used to go camping where you have no water and you have to hunt for food. You sleep under the stars.”
“There is a diverse group of people going. We’ll see how they cope with the physical tiredness, the mental tiredness, tolerance levels, sore bodies, dust, mosquitos, snakes, and being scared.”
The team will have to negotiate several rapids, wild animals and sleeping on the banks of the river throughout the challenge.
The objective is to raise fifty thousand pounds for Village Water, a charity which will provide clean water and sanitation facilities for villages in Zambia, as well as raising awareness of rowing in schools across the country.
The group will be “actively involved in the digging of loos and building of wells”.
Antonia said: “There will be opportunities for the team to go into villages at various stages. This isn’t one of those charities where we’ll be throwing money at them. It is an ongoing community-led contract. They will involve themselves in it when they see the dysentery, the diarrhoea the worms and the benefits of having sanitary facilities.”
Antonia is hoping to qualify for the 2012 Olympics and will be heading to Egypt later this year to take part in the African Qualification Regatta. She will be the first person to represent Zambia for rowing on an international level. She said: “My heart is still in Zambia. I am very proud to wear the flag on my kit.”
To sponsor the team, you can donate online at www.rowzambezi.com