The Race Village burst into life this morning during the IchorCoal boat naming ceremony when the Sapinda Rainbow Ambassadors treated their fellow crew to an impromptu singing performance in honour of the journey they are about to embark upon together.

IchorCoal CEO Nonkululeko Nyembezi-Heita attended the event along with Sapinda Rainbow Foundation Founder and Clipper Race Alumni Dirk van Daele and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. After Nonkululeko had christened IchorCoal and welcomed the crew, she explained IchorCoal's desire to get involved in the Clipper Race: "In South Africa mines are often the key economic motor in the communities in which they operate. IchorCoal is committed to ensure that the local population benefits from its presence in their community and shares in the growth potential of the local economy. IchorCoal and its subsidiaries take this obligation seriously and this race is an amazing opportunity to share that message."

Dirk expressed his gratitude to her for the Team Sponsor’s support of the Sapinda Rainbow Foundation: “Thanks to IchorCoal for sponsoring the team in this year’s Clipper Race. It is always nice for a programme like ours to be with a company and management with shared values.”

This is the second time the Sapinda Rainbow Foundation has had ambassadors take on the challenge of the Clipper Race, an initiative that came about after Dirk saw the benefits of a similar project based in Europe during this time as a crew member in the 2009-10 race edition. He went on to explain: “Sapinda Group is a privately held investment group which decided to give something back - but in a sphere that we should know something about, which is leadership development.

“So in 2013, with the help of the Clipper Race, we set up the first programme where communities in South Africa proposed 18-24 year-old participants. We then ran them though the Durban boot camp, selected the top 10 and trained them in the UK. Each of them did a leg of the race around the world. To put this into context: many of these participants had never seen the sea or travelled by plane before starting this journey,” Dirk added.

“From the first group we had a former gangster becoming the first black South African to complete the Sydney Hobart Race; one going back to school at the age of 21 to get a secondary school diploma; and Lebalang Molobele who combines studying for a legal degree with running the Sapinda Rainbow office in Pretoria, which continues to look after those who were Clipper 2013-14 Race crew.”

As well as being the Race Skipper for IchorCoal, Darren Ladd also trained all the Sapinda Rainbow ambassadors in the last race. Speaking at the naming ceremony, Darren said: “At this time during the 2013-14 race, I had to say goodbye to the crew I had been training for months on end, so to know that in a couple of days we will be setting sail across the Atlantic Ocean - and around the world together - is a special feeling.

“We have a great mix of nationalities in our crew and similarly to across the Clipper Race fleet they come from a range of backgrounds. One of our circumnavigators is from a mining family in the North East of England so IchorCoal’s sponsorship has a significant meaning to him, and then we have the Sapinda Rainbow ambassadors who bring a very different perspective to the team. Everyone has bonded, everyone has a lot to offer and now we just want to get sailing.”

In this race the Sapinda Rainbow ambassadors are raising awareness and funds for NDLOVU, an HIV/Aids R&D centre in rural South Africa.

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