Clipper Race: Young Limpopo Man Celebrates Sailing From South Africa to Australia

Clipper Race. Sewisa Lourance Magane & Thulisile Lekalake
Clipper Race. Sewisa Lourance Magane & Thulisile Lekalake

Before being awarded a bursary to compete in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race by the Sapinda Rainbow Foundation, Sewisa ‘Lourance’ Magane had never been on board a boat before. Now, after 25 days at sea, he is celebrating crossing the Southern Ocean, a feat many sailors can only dream of.

The 23-year-old from Groberlsdal, Limpopo was part of the crew on South African sponsored entry ‘IchorCoal’.

Lourance is one of eight young South Africans aged 18 to 23 who have been chosen to take part in the world’s longest ocean race as part of the Sapinda Rainbow Foundation relay team. They are all racing on board ‘IchorCoal’, one of twelve identical 70 foot ocean racing yachts crewed by amateur sailors under the command of professional skippers.

“My experience in Leg 3 was good, I have learnt a lot of things and I have managed to do all the things I said I would do, maintaining communication and control,” said Lourance upon his arrival into Albany in the third of this eight global endurance challenge. “We had a big storm on the way out of Cape Town and it was quite challenging, but when you don’t have a choice you have to face it. I wasn’t scared as I was in the same boat as my crew so we had to work together through it.”

The race was a typical Southern Ocean leg, with the fleet enduring a storm as it left Table Bay and taking a battering. The choices made in those first 36 hours shaped the race for a lot of the teams, with the top three yachts enduring it well and keeping up a lot of sail during the storm. They eventually had a lead of 1000 nautical miles on the backmarkers.

All the boats reported boat-breaking conditions with gusts of 70-80 knots on several occasions, extremely confused seas and waves of 8-10 metres during the race.

Lourance has aspirations to be a doctor and hopes that he can inspire others to pursue their ambitions when he gets back home and shares his experience: “I am excited because I can say that I have done something no one else in my community has achieved. I have faced big waves in the Southern Ocean for weeks on end. Being away from home was a big challenge for me but I enjoyed working with my team they were good to me and very supportive I have new friends.

“I am so proud of my achievement I cannot express. I have changed, I have learnt how to communicate with people and manage myself better. It will have an impact on my life and I know I will have a better future and inspire people to do better things.”

At 40,000 nautical miles, the Clipper Race is world’s longest ocean race and will take almost one year to complete. It 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.

One of Lourance’s crew mates on ‘IchorCoal’ praised his ability to deal with the conditions. Brian Peebles, a 50 year old company director from the UK, commented: “I was on the same watch as Lourance and I am personally very proud of him, I think he did a fantastic job. To leave your home country which is typically really hot as South Africa is, to race across the cold, wet conditions of the Southern Ocean when you have not experienced the cold before is an achievement in itself.

“Lourance is a great team player and is great to have around and his sailing skills have come a long way. I want to thank him too as I now know a lot more about South Africa than I did before – we had a great cultural exchange on board, Lourance now likes tea too!”

Lourance lost his parents as a young age and he is from a community were young people have low expectations and are not motivated; many end up in petty crime and substance abuse. It was difficult to be a child and a parent at the same time. He has been supported by Ndlovu Care Group, which is the charity of the Sapinda Rainbow Foundation for 2015-16.

The 4845 nautical mile Southern Ocean crossing to Western Australia, was named by host port Albany the ‘Wardan Whip’ – inspired by the traditional native Noongar language which means ‘ocean of southern winds’.

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