Invest Africa and Sapinda Rainbow Project celebrate young South Africans’ achievement

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Following Saturday’s Race Finish, Invest Africa crew were invited to join the Sapinda Rainbow Project in celebrating the success of eight young South Africans’ participation in the 40,000 mile, 11-month long challenge.

The eight ambassadors from challenging backgrounds were reunited in London a year after being selected to race and go onto become community leaders in South Africa.

Now the Clipper Race has come to an end an advisory board has been formed to continue to mentor the young South African ambassadors. The board includes Clipper Race Chairman Sir Robin Knox- Johnston, who has spent his career supporting youth development.

The programme will continue to be involved in the Clipper 2015-16 Race and hopes to build its youth development further in  Africa. The ambassadors will be involved in the selection process and organisation of finding future young Africans to take part in the race.

At the Clipper Race Finish in London on Saturday, the ambassadors welcomed in Leg 8 fellow representative Lebalang Molobele, a 22 year-old from Meadowlands, Gauteng, who had a  fear of water before participating in the race.

Lebalang says:  “Since taking part in the Clipper Race and the Sapinda Rainbow Project I have learnt so many things. This announcement is great news, we need mentors to support us as we progress and develop. For  the youth in South Africa, there are not many people out there that can give you their time to help overcome the challenges we face. It’s going to be an amazing project and I look forward to continue being part of it.”

The initiative is funded by the Sapinda group, an investment holding company with particular focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. The group is engaged in a number of socially responsible initiatives, taking particular interest in promoting leadership among young people in South 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.

Celebrating the ambassadors’ achievement in London, Dirk says:  “It has been amazing to witness the amount of support that the project has had and I would particularly like to thank the crew of Invest Africa and skipper Rich Gould. I feel incredibly proud standing here today looking at how the Sapinda Rainbow team have changed. They are both self-confident and inspirational. They are determined to go back into their communities and share their stories in the hope that they can change even more lives with a more positive outlook for the future.

“We recognise that these young people need continuing support to help them achieve their ambitions and continue to be successful. The creation of the Sapinda Rainbow Foundation is to not only provide mentors to support these young South Africans but also to repeat this project again for the 2015-16 edition of the Clipper Race and, potentially, to expand it into more African countries. We are thankful for all of the support the Clipper Race has given the project and we are delighted that Sir Robin has agreed to join the board of the new foundation.”

The Invest Africa team had a rollercoaster of a race campaign during the 11 month challenge, winning the first race from London to Brest, France and a third place podium win on the race in to its home continent  on the race from Brazil to Cape Town, South Africa.

Its third and final podium position came from the gruelling race across the North Pacific from Qingdao in China to San Francisco.   But the victories were bittersweet with the team having to accept twelfth place on a couple of occasions when at the back of the fleet after poor weather conditions and the race course being shortened.

During the Australian leg of the race, news that Nelson Mandela had died reached the teams and was a particularly sad moment for the young South Africans ambassadors who were raising money for Madiba’s final legacy, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital.

Over the 11 months, the crew and ambassadors raced side by side under the guidance and support of skipper Rich Gould. The team finished eleventh overall with 66 points. Rich said he was incredibly proud of his crew.

 “The most important thing for me was to make sure that we raced safely. We got a few podiums and suffered a few losses but we had the least amount of penalty points deducted and no major injuries on board unlike some of the other teams in the fleet.”

Commenting on the team’s achievements, Rich added: “It’s been a great experience to have the Sapinda Rainbow Project on board.  To journey thousands of miles away from home and to get fully immersed in the race having never travelled before is a huge achievement. They brought great energy and enthusiasm to the team and to watch each of them develop throughout their time on board has been very rewarding. Myself and the other crew have learnt a lot from them too.

“I look forward to following the ambassadors and what projects they will get involved in. It’s great to see that the Sapinda Rainbow Project initiative is leaving such a legacy and I would love to be involved with the development of the programme for future races to come."