Boosting efforts towards enhancing and developing the maritime sector for sports, leisure, marine tourism, and maritime careers, the South African Maritime Safety Authority this week gave young school children an opportunity to meet the coal face of sailing during several visits to the Volvo Ocean Race village in Cape Town.
On Saturday, SAMSA hosted students from the Lawhill Maritime Centre at the VOR where competititors are stopping over before they set sail to Abu Dhabi next week. And during the week at least 1200 school children from schools across the Western Cape including Simunye High, Darul Arqam Islamic High and Zisukhanyo Secondary, were hosted to various activities in the VOR Race village.The school children were hosted on a tugboat ride, and visited the Maritime Museum among other activities.
The V&A Waterfront was abuzz this weekend when at least 40 enthusiastic and excited students had a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit various exhibitions hosted by Volvo for the international sailing teams. They were provided with the opportunity to interact with Team SCA (the all womens sailing team); and tried their hand at sailing on board the vessel, the Spirit of the Ocean. Six Lawhill tried sailing and took on tasks such as grinding, hoisting, trimming and even driving, in a real time atmosphere.
Over the years SAMSA has provided bursaries to the Lawhill Maritime Centre for selected students, especially those from the Eastern Cape and the Free State, enabling them to follow the maritime courses, and thereby, to enter careers that formerly were unknown to them. SAMSA has also generously provided bursaries for some past students to complete their tertiary maritime studies at the Cape Peninsula and Durban University of Technologies.
Orlando Dwakumbe, 17, who tried his hand with sailing this weekend was ecstatic. Fascinated by the amount of work goes into building a vessel, commandeering and maintaining it, he was surprised at the amount of grit and grind it took to manoeuvre the Spirit of the Ocean vessel.
“After having this experience today, I now know what it takes to be in the open seas. You need stamina and good form. I have lived in a township all my life, have had limited exposure to what the world has to offer. I used to see ships passing. Now I can be on one. Today’s Try Sailing was a great experience. Thank you SAMSA for promoting the maritime industry and ensuring that children like me have access to this sport of sailing which is very expensive,” Dwakumbe said.
Innocent Jali, 17, would have almost missed out on the opportunity for Try Sailing had it not been for the fact that he was added in the last minute. This young man from Clermont Township in Durban has always been fascinated by ships and his favourite hobby as a child was visiting the Durban harbour. “I have always lived near the ocean but trying something like sailing was never something I thought I would achieve. It is expensive and I actually thought it would never be possible until SAMSA facilitated this experience at the VOR. I am grateful.SAMSA is giving South Africans more opportunity to be introduced to the maritime industry and creating job opportunities. With us having these experiences today, I call out to other youth to realise their dreams. Nothing is impossible.”
Present at the tour this weekend was SAMSA scholarship recipients Lelethu Nduku, 16, and Lwanda Tebo, 16, who were thrilled and excited at the opportunity provided by SAMSA to make real their dreams on “actually being on a boat”, both teenagers remarked. “This is so real. Today we got inspired by a female crew who competed head to head with their male counterparts. And they tough and showed they too can compete in this very unfamiliar terrain. We also saw our scholars compete,” Lelethu added.
SAMSA is the custodian of skills development in the maritime sector. The authority is introducing through its various programmes the opportunities to pursue careers in the maritime sector which is multi-disciplinary. The sector soffers careers as seagoing officers, maritime lawyers, naval architecture, ship design, ship services; surveyors, ships husbandry, stevedoring and shipbuilding and ship repair. Other areas offering maritime employment are maritime insurance, maritime tourism, maritime financial institutions, offshore mining, offshore oil and gas, government institutions, shipping agents, maritime salvage etc.
SAMSA’s association with the Volvo Ocean Race allows the students to receive hands-on practical exposure to the maritime industry, as this complements the formal teaching which takes place in the classroom.
SAMSA CEO Tseitsi Mokhele said the VOR was not just about exposing South Africans to sailing but it allows one to see the various aspects connected to maritime leisure and sports, and even off the sea careers, from boat and ship building, repairing, engineering, and nautical science.
“Hosting the VOR is not only important for the authority from a skills development perspective, but it also strengthens the students’ passion for the maritime world and, more often than not, reinforces their decision to embark on a maritime career. The formation of the Ocean Racing Trust during the VOR will also see the possibility of a South African sailing team, in years to come which will be a feat for South Africa.”
To this end SAMSA is working closely with Volvo and local sports organisations such as Worldsports to create a structure that will further develop South Africa’s competency in Ocean Racing, stimulate marine associated industries and provide opportunities for young South Africans to participate in this sector of the maritime economy.
In years to come SAMSA working with other role players to establish an Ocean Racing facility in the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront which will develop and finance the growth strategy through targeted ocean sailing platforms.
Photographs of the schoolchildren can be assessed from: