Two months to the day since Richard Kohler left Cape Town on 19th December 2022, he made history by arriving in Salvador, Brazil – having crossed the south Atlantic ocean solo and unsupported in his kayak, Osiyeza (The Crossing). This mammoth task is a story of endurance, courage against the odds, and the indomitability of the human spirit.
To claim the record of paddling solo and unsupported from South Africa to Brazil, Richard had to touch dock or land unsupported. There was no place for him to dock at the yacht club, so he had to swim ashore to fulfil the requirements to successfully make his Ocean X crossing official.
Strong tidal currents
The bay of Salvador is vast. Strong tidal currents fill and empty the bay every few hours. If Richard didn’t make it in time, he would have to wait until the following morning to finally touch down on Brazilian soil.
As luck would have it, Richard managed to paddle hard in the final moments of his long journey to be able to swim to the beach. He was joined for the last few kilometres by an entourage of navy, lifeguards and local paddlers. Richard tied Osiyeza to a mooring buoy, jumped ship and swam ashore to meet his wife, Judith, and the rest of the welcoming team.
Dream come true for Richard Kohler
“Paddling a kayak across the ocean on my own has been a ten-year dream,” said Richard, “including the last five years of planning and execution.
“I am very relieved that I had what it takes for an adventure like this, but also very grateful that it has come to an end,” he said on reaching Salvador.
“The experience is one that I will cherish for the rest of my days. But more importantly, I hope my story has inspired others to dream and to act on their dreams. I would like to thank all my sponsors, supporters, followers, donors, my exceptional shore team and my family for getting me across the ocean.”
“The crowning glory must be the phenomenal success of the fund raising for Operation Smile South Africa. We have raised over half a million Rand ensuring that more than a hundred children will receive corrective cleft surgery,” beamed Richard.
This has been several years in the making, and Richard first attempted the crossing in December 2021 but had to pull out after just two weeks at sea. This time around, through lonely days and nights, Richard Kohler has achieved his Ocean X dream and finally touched land a few days earlier than his estimation of 70 days to complete the crossing in an incredible 63 days and 7 hours.
Over R600 000 raised for Operation Smile
The number 70 is also very special to Richard and his Ocean X journey as this solo crossing was done with a purpose in mind: to raise money for Operation Smile. Richard’s inspiring journey has seen him exceed his goal of 70 life-changing cleft palate operations, having raised almost R600 000 for the charity, to give over 100 children new smiles. More than one for every day he has been at sea.
“Like everyone who has been closely following Richard’s progress, we are in complete awe of what he has achieved and delighted he has made his dream a reality,” said Sarah Scarth, Executive Director of Operation Smile South Africa.
“We are deeply grateful that he has used his epic adventure to transform the lives of dozens of children born with cleft lip and palates, and extremely thankful to everyone who has contributed, in support of Operation Smile. Congratulations and thank you Richard!”
Thank you to everyone who has supported and sponsored Richard Kohler’s adventure, ALTSA, SMD Africa Marine, Seaport Supply, Aerontec, Powersol, Sicomin, Treble Group, Highbury Media, Further Composites, Phil Southwell Designs, Victron Energy SA, Solbian, AST Group, McMurdo, Link Engineering, Cableman, Forever Fresh, Buttanut, Carb Smart, Revive and everyone who has donated and backed Richard’s cause on this incredible journey, while also giving much-needed messages of love and support on social media.