(L-R) Kobus Bresler, Marian Penso, Max Cluer (MC), Simon Gear, Lisa de Speville (organiser), Frank Solomon, Ross Tucker, Gerard Finnemore, Andy de Klerk, Craig Egberink and Kim van Kets.
FEAT celebrates South African adventurers and their expeditions through an evening of time-limited talks. Each speaker is allocated only seven minutes for their slideshow-based presentation. It’s a night of interesting places, captivating adventures and inspiring experiences. Although a few of the speakers names are well recognised, like weatherman Simon Gear and sports scientist Ross Tucker, FEAT aims to promote a diversity of sporting disciplines and adventurers.
“This is the thing about this evening,” says Lisa de Speville, creator of FEAT, “the FEAT stage is open to everyone – provided that their adventure is non-motorised. They’ve all got wonderful messages and when they share their experiences it really comes straight from the heart. Most of the FEAT speakers have never been on a stage before and they’ve certainly never had to speak to an audience of over 400. For me, this makes their talks even more charming and personal.” She encourages people to come to FEAT because of the names that they don’t recognise rather than those that they do.
Kobus Bresler was first on stage, speaking about his solo expedition where he scaled the highest points in each province, in nine days. He encouraged people to challenge his record of 8 days 6 hours and 52 minutes, suggesting that with good conditions they could do it. All too often people look abroad for adventure but, as Bresler says, there are adventures to be had right here at home.
Craig Egberink won the recent Mongol Derby, a 1000km endurance horse riding race in Mongolia. Horses are an integral aspect of the Mongolian culture and by being in the lead after an early break, showing respect to the horse owners and appreciation for their animals he had the fortune of choosing from the best horses available.
Sports scientist Ross Tucker had the audience hanging on every word with his insight into the physiological features that enable humans to achieve extraordinary endurance feats. Although Usain Bolt would not be able to beat a hippopotamus over 100 metres, humans are able to run exceptional distances. With this talk Tucker has most definitely steered the career direction of many of the younger audience members towards sports science.
Kim van Kets’ story of her five-month journey around South Africa’s perimeter by foot, bike and kayak – with her husband and six-year old daughter as support crew – reaffirmed that having a family does not mean that you’re stuck at home making lunch boxes and cooking dinner. A wonderful role model for women, especially mothers, van Kets is most of all an inspiration to her daughter. Young Hannah wants to grow up to be a mom who is an extreme, rock-climbing ballerina.
Clinical psychologist Gerard Finnemore interviewed 12 adventurers and has created a profile of personality traits, common to this group, which are strikingly distant from the norms. He has been investigating post-expedition depression, coping mechanisms and factors that contribute to the severity of the adventurer’s reaction. He says that self awareness is key to making it through the blues and being able to move forward and plan the next adventure.
Rock climbing legend Andy de Klerk spoke of the responsibility that climbers shoulder when opening climbing routes. A good route is elegant and well planned; a successful ascent is not purely about hauling yourself to the top by any means.
Currently ranked 10th in the invitation-only Big Wave World Tour, Frank Solomon’s first stage appearance was probably more terrifying for him than a massive wave; but by his third slide he had the audience charmed. Big-wave surfers are always on call, having to jet off to competitions with only 48-hours of notice. This plays havoc with work, relationships and plans.
It took Marian Penso only 29 days to ride the 4500 kilometre length of the Continental Divide, from Canada to the US-Mexico border. She and her partner, Luke Bush, chose this ride for it being a self-supported journey through a range of weather conditions and remote terrain.
Simon Gear is a well-recognised personality from television and radio. His energised talk brought home the message that although the adventures of space travel and colonising other planets exist they are very much unrealistic. Other planets are not the answer for when the environment on Earth is destroyed and resources are depleted; we’ve got to take care of what we have.
The first recipient of the FEAT Award was announced and it went to Regardt Botes and his teammates for their ‘What SUP Zanzi’ expedition. This is an eight-day Stand Up Paddle (SUP) adventure where Botes, with Flip du Plessis and Christo Smede, will paddle 230 kilometres around the largest of the Zanzibar islands. They leave for Zanzibar in two weeks. The FEAT Award is a cash sponsorship that celebrates adventures and aims to assist in making an adventure possible.
In addition to a display of the martial arts and dance form, capoeira, some audience members received surprise prizes from FEAT sponsors: Black Diamond, Capestorm, Hi-Tec and 32Gi. They also all received 32Gi’s new ready-to-drink endurance energy product at intermission.
The next evening of FEAT talks will be held in 2012. FEAT is an annual event.