Nelson Mandela Bay Bellbuoy Challenge

Rules and Regulations

Condensed Race Briefing


  • Participant pack collection will be at the Zsports Office between 4pm and 6pm on Friday 22nd March. Friends/family may collect on swimmers behalf. 


  • Social category seconds who are on Surf Ski's and don't store their craft at the Summerstrand lifesaving club should please try launch from Hobie Beach to avoid congestion at race venue.
  • No category changes permitted after 07:00 on race morning (Elite/Social changes).
  • Start roll call may start from 07:30, starting with the Elite Swimmers.
  • We will have TWO start lines and start times, first for Elites and second for Social Swimmers
  • The Prize giving will follow immediate after the last swimmer home

RESULTS with your bellbuoy turn split will be on the website LIVE throughout the event. 

The full listing of the Rules and Regulations can be downloaded by clicking here.


  • The Swim takes place from the beach at Pollok Beach, Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa out to the nautical Bell Buoy and back along the same route, on the date advertised.
  • There are two categories for entry - ELITE (eligible for prize money, no seconds permitted) and SOCIAL (no prize money, seconds permitted).
  • In the unlikely event that the Swim is cancelled outright, entry fees can not be refunded or transferred to a future swim due to the fact that all expenses have already been incurred. In the case of a cancellation, prize money will carry forward to the next year's swim. 
  • The Race Organiser may, in its sole discretion and for any reasons whatsoever, cancel, postpone, delay, or otherwise, amend the date and time of the Swim, provided that the Swim shall not be cancelled or postponed unless:
    • The ocean swell and conditions make swimming unsafe
    • The wind is too strong for boats to support participants, or for the participants to swim effectively;
    • Visibility is too poor for the supporting boats to support their participants properly; or
    • Clear sightings of sharks in the area make it unreasonably unsafe for participants.
    • Instructed to by the Beach Office, SAMSA or any other Marina authority for the local area.
    • The water temperature is below 10 degrees at two or more places along the route.
  • All participants participate in the Swim entirely at their own risk and swimmers are to use their discretion on the day if the water temperature is very low. If the temperature is below 13 degrees, the wearing of wetsuits may become compulsory and inexperienced cold-water swimmers will be cautioned against taking part.
  • If a swimmer has a second, such a second is subject to the regulations governing support vessels and seconds as listed below. No advantage can be given to the swimmer by the second (ie slip).
  • Two cut-off points are in effect for this race, the first at the Bell Buoy (1 hour 15min) and the second at the ¾ mark (2hrs). All participants who have failed to pass a cut-off point at the stipulated time may be removed from the water and marked as ‘Did Not Finish’. Medals are presented to all swimmers who complete the swim in under 3hrs.
  • Support boats and swim officials should pull participants out of the water should they be at risk.
  • Swimmers shall not be permitted an artificial aid of any kind; however, swimmers may grease themselves, use goggles, and wear the official swim cap. During the swim a swimmer may only have physical contact with a craft or another person if there is no advantage gained by such action.
  • All Swimmers are required to swim with a safety Swim-Buoy. If at any stage a swimmer swims without a safety Swim-Buoy he/she may be disqualified (and may be asked to leave the water).
  • The holding-on or climbing onto the Bellbuoy is STRICTLY forbidden and may result in the swimmer(s) being disqualified and withdrawn from the water.
  • Withdrawal process:
    • A swimmer can withdraw at any time during the swim.
    • A second should pull out its swimmer if the swimmer is at risk. A paddler can alert the official support boats at any time, should they require assistance
    • Swim officials may withdraw any swimmer at any time, if they believe the swimmer is at risk
    • Once a swimmer has been instructed to withdraw he/she will be automatically disqualified
    • The swimmer's second or the officials will exercise their discretion and follow the swim briefing advice in order to withdraw swimmer from the race.
    • Swimmers who refuse to follow a withdrawal call will be automatically disqualified for the swim and the organiser reserves its right to penalise the swimmer
  • The minimum age for a participant to enter shall be 14 years in the year of the event (as at 31 Dec).
  • Swimmers are required to wear the official event swim cap as provided and this which must be visible at all times. Any swimmers intentionally removing the swim cap before coming out of the water after their swim may be disqualified.

Support Personnel / Vessels

  • Swimmers in the Elite category may not have any seconds on the water during the race.
  • Social swimmers may be accompanied by a motorized and sea-worthy support vessel, SAMSA approved or a competent long distance paddler.
  • All boatmen, seconds, paddlers and swimmers MUST attend a pre-race briefing at the start area on Pollok Beach at 7.30am on race day.
  • Any boats used must be SAMSA compliant and licensed to travel at least 2,5km out to sea.
  • All paddle craft must be SAMSA and/or CSA compliant for an ocean paddle – personal floatation devices and a leash will be compulsory.
  • If using a vessel, a copy of this license clearly marked with your race number, to be faxed / emailed to organisers no later than 8am on Thursday of race week together with your indemnity form.
  • Unqualified boats will not be permitted on the water and may run the risk of a fine by SAMSA. Please ensure that your support boat is fully compliant.
  • The boat should also have sufficient space on it to allow swimmers to lie flat should they need to be removed from the water. (Swimmers need to lie flat to lessen the effects of exhaustion and hypothermia while being transported to shore or the medical boat at sea.)
  • Vessels must never leave their swimmer alone and should be within 10m of the swimmer at all times.
  • Seconds who do not abide by the Swim rules may cause their participants to be disqualified. Any interference by a swimmer’s second on another swimmer(s) may result in disqualification.
  • All seconds MUST carry a cellular phone in a waterproof pouch and have the Race Emergency Number (083 2344301) on speed dial.
  • The organiser reserves the right to deny a second permission to accompany a swimmer if they don’t adhere to any of the above. In this instance it is up to the swimmer to decide whether or not they continue without a personal second and to acquire the necessary safety swim buoy.


The Swim will be overseen by:

  • race organisers & timekeepers
  • officials on shore and on the water
  • Paramedics at sea and on the beach
  • various emergency services and staff
  • general volunteers

Prizes & Medals

See website for latest prize template (
Should the swim become a wetsuit only swim, all prize money allocated to the event will be reallocated to cover the top 10 positions of the swim in both the Men’s and Ladies category.

Early entrants assured of receiving a Bell Buoy Challenge branded silicone swim cap & t-shirt


Support Sponsors Dark Water Ops

Africa's TOUGHEST Indian Ocean Swim - Algoa Bay, South Africa