Atlantic Dash swimmers paid their last respects to prominent businessman and accomplished open water swimmer Theodore Yach.
The swimmers gathered at Clifton 4th Beach on Sunday morning for a mass dip in the cold waters in honour and memory of the veteran swimmer.
Derrick Frazer, a member of the Atlantic Dash swimmers, said Mr Yach, (fondly known as Theo) had been very well-known in open water swimming circles.
He was also the brains behind Atlantic Dash, a 5km swim from Clifton 4th Beach to Three Anchor Bay.
“In 2012, he asked me to create the Atlantic Dash swim and he sponsored it,” said Mr Frazer.
He added that while the swimmers were supposed to have done the 5km swim on Sunday, in honour of Mr Yach, the water had been too cold, and it was not safe to swim for 5km.
“The Atlantic Dash swim is an extreme swim and limited to 40 people only and because there were more than 40 people who wanted to pay their respects to him, I said we must do a swim out this morning, pay our respects and we’ll do the extreme one on another day and it will forever be in memory of Theo,” said Mr Frazer.
According to the Cape Long Distance Swimming Association (CLDSA), Mr Yach passed away peacefully on Wednesday, October 17 at the age of 60. He had been undergoing routine tests for an asthma complaint when he collapsed and passed away in hospital.
In addition to completing the swim from the mainland to Robben Island 108 times, Mr Yach had also completed an English Channel crossing and many other international distance swims.
Condolences poured in after the announcement of Mr Yach’s death.
Commenting on the news on Facebook, Martin Beilschmidt, posted: “Our heartfelt condolences to Michelle and family! I had the opportunity to meet him at a talk given at Two Oceans Aquarium years ago, he was an awesome gent. He will surely be remembered amongst the great men of this world.”
Walter Hart said: “I played water polo with Theodore for Vikings in the 70s, and more recently with Nevilles Knights Masters team. What a great guy. Generous in spirit and pocket. We will miss seeing him pounding up and down Sea Point pool.”
The CLDSA said Mr Yach would be remembered as a humble gentleman, who loved motivating the youth to achieve their dreams. They said he was a friend to all and took interest in all swimmers who shared his passion for sea swimming.
Meanwhile, there have been calls to rename the Robben Island to Cape Town swim, the “Theodore Yach Challenge”.
The proposal, by the CEO of M&C Saatchi, Mike Abel, was supported by the DA and Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, who said: “I can think of no honour more appropriate than naming this event after Mr Yach. He was the first person in history to complete the Robben Island to Cape Town swim a full 100 times over.”
Ms Zille described Mr Yach as an extraordinary man and the visionary behind the Central City Improvement District (CCID) who had played a huge role in the transformation of the city.
“To his wife, Michelle, his sons David and Daniel, his mother Estelle and his siblings, we send our deepest condolences and wishes for a long life,” said Ms Zille.
The CCID spokesperson, Carola Koblitz, said Mr Yach played an integral role in the turnaround of the Cape Town Central City.
“As one of our founding members, and a director on the CCID’s board for 15 years – five spent as our chair – he was passionate about seeing the CBD turn away from the crime and grime scenario it had fallen victim to prior to 2000, and much of the success of what we see today in the CBD can be attributed to Theodore’s hard work, dedication and belief in our downtown.
“It was a huge shock to all of us that he has passed. He was a true visionary and we will miss his wisdom.”