Nqoba Mswazi, a 22-year-old from Umbilo, is one of ten young South Africans aged 18 to 23 who have been chosen to take part in the Sapinda Rainbow Project. The aim is to develop young community leaders of the future and the ambassadors will also raise international awareness and funds for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital through their participation in the race.
Nqoba will join the fleet of 670 amateur crew on Sunday 16 March on board the Invest Africa entry, one of twelve Clipper 70 foot ocean racing yachts to race 5,800 miles of the world’s largest ocean, the notorious North Pacific from Qingdao, China to San Francisco, USA. He will spend over three weeks at sea. In Durban, Nqoba is a part-time sailing instructor at Sail Africa Youth Development Foundation and part-time sail maker, and has crewed in teams participating in professional regattas, including the prestigious Lipton Cup. Seven months ago, the ten ambassadors of the Sapinda Rainbow Project were in Durban at Sail Africa’s training centre, competing against 20 other hopefuls to be part of the project and take on the challenge of the race.
Embarking on his adventure, Nqoba says: “I first heard about the Sapinda Rainbow Project and Clipper Race through Sail Africa, who nominated me to be an ambassador. Other sailors I know inspired me to go for the selections and I also always wished to do an ocean crossing with MSC Team Shosholoza.
“Living in the townships and doing a white man’s sport, a lot of people treat you differently but now being part of the Sapinda Rainbow Project and taking part in the race, I have the respect from people in my community as well as from other sailors.
“When I found out I had been successful in taking part in the race I was blown away, I just couldn’t believe it because the competition was hard and the selection panel were looking for many different qualities in the candidates and even if you can sail that didn’t score you any extra points. So far the Sapinda Rainbow Project has been a great learning curve for me and there are still lots of other things that I will learn to improve my seamanship skills during the race. I am really looking forward to starting my crazy adventure crossing the biggest ocean.”
The initiative is funded by the Sapinda group, an investment holding company with particular focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. Dirk van Daele, Sapinda Executive Committee member and CEO of Anoa Capital, participated in the 2009-10 edition of the Clipper Race and saw how it developed young people from around the world in building their confidence and leadership skills. It inspired him to see how he could offer a similar opportunity to young South Africans who wouldn’t otherwise be able to participate.
Nqoba adds: “I think the most challenging part of the race will be the rough seas and long cold night hours sailing in under minus 5 degrees. Being involved with the Sapinda Rainbow project means a lot to me, and I’m honoured for been part of the team. The project has made me see things in life differently and it has helped me grow.
“My friends never liked sailing when I first started it, but since I’ve had this big adventure on the horizon they really respect me and they are excited for me. My family is excited and nervous that I’ll be crossing the North Pacific but they are supporting me.”
The Clipper Race was set up by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world in 1968-9. His vision was to enable people, regardless of their sailing history the chance to take part in ocean racing no matter what their background.
For further information about the Clipper Race please visit www.clipperroundtheworld.com