Getting to the Starting Line
Firstly, this is my first ever blog post, so please bear with me. I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would be writing a blog post about what it takes to get to the starting line of a double human-powered circumnavigation of the globe. Let me start off by saying it is by far the most challenging obstacle I have had to endure in my lifetime.
I often get asked how I formulated this idea. The truth is, it was partially my idea. A good friend, Tom Hart, and I discussed the idea of circumnavigating the globe from pole to pole using wind power (sailing, kites, skis, etc.) but, after trekking with Tom in the Drakensburg Mountains, Tom and I realized we both had very different ideas on how to approach such a mammoth task. Tom is a dear friend and I am afraid, if we had stuck with each other for more than a month, one of us would have ended up man overboard mid-Atlantic. Tom would agree.
Going solo was the way forward. I wish I could remember the exact moment it hit me; the day that idea popped in my head. There was no turning back. It’s become an obsession and, ever since, it’s all I think about.
At the time, I was getting ready for another yachting season; this time in the Caribbean – not a bad option looking back at it now. The fact is, I found that lifestyle very artificial and could not see myself being a skipper for the extremely wealthy as a long-term career. You have to be “all in” with a project of this nature – you can’t have a day job and think that you can do this.
It’s really all or nothing. I have sold off properties and virtually everything I own to get this project off the ground. This was not an easy process, but has left me debt free. I have absolutely no strings or commitments holding me back. I’m 29 years old and feel as free as I did when I was 18 leaving South Africa to work in London.
The project started off with a map, an idea, and a cause (Heifer International South Africa). When meeting new people in a pub and being asked the dreaded question, “So, Angelo, what do you do?” I would very shyly say I’m an adventurer/explorer.
It took months to build up the confidence to tell people what the project is all about. Try explaining to someone who has never run more than 10km that you plan to circumnavigate the globe twice under your own steam, or someone who lives in a small town and never travelled abroad. All you get is a “this guy is frikkin crazy” look. I have now mastered the art of reading if a person would be interested in the project.
If they aren’t, I claim that I’m in retail sales. I have had a friend ask me, “So what do you do all day? Are you still working on your hobby”!
I won’t bore you with the details of how difficult it is to convince corporate companies to invest in an idea that has not yet started. Planning an expedition on this scale left me with no choice but to seek major corporate backing. What I can say is, when finding the right company who truly believes in you and the project, it makes a world of difference. I was fortunate enough to have ICare4 call me after a national radio interview.
They said, “Look, we would love to get involved in Expedition 720 this is the number we have in mind.” Coincidentally, that figure was spot on and what I had in mind. This was the lucky break we needed and a major turning-point of the project. I will be forever grateful to Icare4 rewards.
Being at this point just 9 days before the start is a feat on its own. It’s been a massive risk, a learning curve, and a wonderful experience. New doors have opened and I have met some incredible adventurers, explorers, professional athletes, and entrepreneurs. I look forward to meeting all types of people along the route and will be, depending largely on the goodwill of people around the world.
Another question I often get asked is what training or preparations I have done. I think all of my combined life experiences have prepared me for this, whether its climbing mountains in the Himalayas, competing in triathlons, sailing, independent travel, endurance sports, studies in project management, working as a trader in the corporate environment – all these skills have taught me the life skills I believe are necessary for this challenge.
I also believe that one cannot spend years preparing for this. I had to set a starting date and now it’s time to get going, otherwise I could spend years planning each possible scenario and end up sitting behind a desk and never actually start. You have to be able to roll with the punches, take rejection, ask for help, accept that you don’t always have control, and be a just a bit stubborn and selfish and change is very possible.
What emotions am I feeling now? I would say it’s a mixed bag of excitement and nerves with a touch of fear but, the truth is, I can’t wait to get on the road. I feel like a child waiting to open a Christmas present. The thing is, I have been talking about if for so long that I just want to start now more than ever. So I’m all packed and ready to go. I think I’ll go and chill at the beach for next few days and to try switch off before attempting to be the first person in history to circumnavigate the world under human power for east to west and pole to pole!
I would like to thank everyone who has supported the project to date. Yes, it’s a solo mission, but I can say that more than 100 people have had a hand in the project in one way or another and without whom I would not be this close to the starting line. Thank you all!