I count my self very privileged to have been invited to the announcement dinner of the 10 young South Africans who have been selected to each do a leg aboard a 70-foot yacht in the Clipper Round the World Race which starts later this year.
The sheer joy and emotion displayed by each and every one of them was infectious and emotional, and simply made one proud to be South African.
Over the weekend 25 young South Africans, whittled down from over 200 applicants, were put through various tests both on and off the water with Sail Africa instructors and personnel and the 8 ‘ambassadors’ who competed in the last Clipper Race. For many this invitation to Durban was the first time they had left their province, had even seen the sea let alone sail on a yacht. But the standards were high and for the ones who shone, the rewards even higher.
Two years ago the Sapinda Foundation did a similar exercise which resulted in 8 crew and 2 reserves being selected for the Clipper Race. Today, those young South Africans have simply blossomed and become confident young adults with realistic and achievable goals in life. Proof is the fact that Lebalang Molobene who did the final leg across the North Atlantic to the finish, was MC for the night, and she did a wonderful job too.
Having selected their team, the Sapinda Foundation does not simply abandon their charges, but rather takes the journey with them giving support all the way. After the last Clipper Race all the Sapinda crew were asked to become involved in a project. Already one has been assisted to go back to school to complete his matric, while another is currently in the UK undergoing Yachtmaster training as he wants to become the first black African to skipper a boat in the Clipper Race.
Sapinda also do not simply abandon the 15 who were not selected as crew. They will all be invited to Cape Town when the Clipper fleet arrives towards the end of the year, and will be part of the whole Clipper experience as well as sailing for a day on a Clipper Boat.
The opportunity to compete in a leg of the Clipper Race is a life-changing experience and one which will go a long way to making these crew young leaders in society.
In mid-April all 10 head to the UK for 30 days training with Clipper Race personnel before heading home and preparing for the race which starts on Sunday 30 August.
I was personally impressed with all 25 candidates. They were polite, humble, well behaved and respectful. Each and every one of those selected made a brief and impromptu thank-you speech – and all did this exceptionally well.
The selected crew are:
Zanele Mweni – Leg 1 female
Reveida Mthethwa – Leg 2 female
Lawrance Magane – Leg 3 male
Thulisile Vanecia Lekalakale – Leg 4 female
Ben Makhanya -Leg 5 male
Boitumelo Charlotte Maila -Leg 6 female
Lerato Bridgette Masombuka -Leg 7 female
Siphamandla Ngcobo -Leg 8 male
Rowaine Waldhausen – reserve
Sakhile Makhanya – reserve
This project is the initiative of the Sapinda Rainbow Foundation in conjunction with the Clipper Race and Sail Africa.