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Maui Jim: SA Team Rows across Atlantic for Education… and a World Record!

Four young South Africans will embark on an epic two-month adventure this December as they gear up to row across the Atlantic Ocean. But, it is not just about winning medals for this team as they rally to raise funds to sponsor academically talented students and provide 500 upcycled plastic desks to rural primary schools.

Team Mad4Waves consists of four University of Cape Town students who are also close friends: Lee Gordon, Cole Barnard, Matt Boynton and Grant Soll. Rowing under the slogan “One Team, One Ocean, One Difference”, the team will take on the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, the number one ocean endurance race that enables teams to raise awareness and funds for a charity of their choice.

The team has partnered with the Make a Difference Leadership Foundation to raise funds for senior school education in South Africa. In addition to this, they have set a further campaign goal to supply 500 upcycled plastic desks to rural primary schools to help address the shortage of basic school infrastructure. Each desk seats two scholars and is made by repurposing nearly 50kg of plastic waste that would mostly end up in the ocean. It’s an education mission with a green heart.

Whilst this race will help raise awareness and funds for education in South Africa, it also holds another opportunity: “When we complete this challenge, we will also bring home a Guinness World Record for being the youngest four males ever to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a rowing boat. That is beyond exciting!” says Cole Barnard, who is currently completing his BSc. in Civil Engineering at UCT.

Team Mad4Waves is the only South African team entered in the 2018 race. In a challenge that is considered one of the hardest on the planet, these four young men will spend up to two months racing across the Atlantic in an ocean rowing boat on a 5500km unaided journey that has been completed by fewer than 500 people to date.

“To survive 60 days out on the ocean, there is great emphasis on safety and personal care,” explains Lee Gordon, who is studying towards his BSc. in Chemical Engineering. “Each piece of gear we take is hand checked by the race organisers and must meet their high-quality specifications.”

“The list of things we require for the row is surprisingly extensive!” notes Grant Soll, who is studying a BSc. in Chemical Engineering. “Due to space and weight constraints, we can only take items that we absolutely need. On our list of must-haves are South African Speedos, for patriotic reasons; iPods and earphones for music and sanity; foul weather gear; and, of course, big hats, tons of sunblock and two pairs of Maui Jim sunglasses.”

“Worried about the effect of glare and harmful UV rays on our eyes, one of our concerned moms – we won’t mention any names – called four different optometrists to find the best sunglasses,” relates Matthew Boynton, who is currently studying his Honours in Physics degree. “Maui Jim was the definitive answer from all four optometrists.”

In true “Aloha Spirit”, Maui Jim has sponsored each team member with two pairs of premium PolarizedPlus2® sunglasses, which eliminate 99.9% of harsh glare, reduces eye fatigue and protect against 100% of harmful UV sun rays as accredited by the Skin Cancer Foundation Seal of Recommendation.

“We are delighted to welcome team Mad4Waves into our Maui Jim Ohana [family]. These young men embody the Maui Jim ‘Aloha Spirit’ which encompasses generosity, gratitude, dedication and compassion” says Martine Larroque, Managing Director Middle East and Africa of Maui Jim® Sunglasses. “We wish the team great success as they strive to do their part by contributing to the future of young students in South Africa. We also look forward to seeing them return home with a World Record!”   

For more information on Team Mad4Waves, please visit

About Maui Jim

Flying-Jimmy-300x155Maui Jim sunglasses were born on the beaches of Maui and designed to protect eyes from the harsh rays of the island sun. Today, Maui Jim is recognised for unparalleled “ Aloha Spirit” and customer service as well as patented PolarizedPlus2® lens technology, which blocks 100% of UV rays and eliminates glare while enhancing colour, definition and depth perception.  Maui Jim sunglasses have earned the Skin Cancer Foundation Seal of Recommendation as an effective UV filter for the eyes and surrounding skin.  For more information, visit or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram at @OfficialMauiJim.