Young South Africans complete intensive UK training

18 May 2015

Ten young South Africans, some of whom have never seen the ocean before, are celebrating the completion of all four levels of Clipper Race training.

The group was shortlisted to take part in the race from nearly 200 applicants aged 18-23 by the Sapinda Rainbow Foundation. They come from a wide range of challenging backgrounds across South Africa. The opportunity - funded by the Foundation - aims to equip the ambassadors with new skills that they can use in their communities and to inspire others. They will be supported by mentors beyond their Clipper Race experience to help them pursue their career goals.

18 year-old Zanele Mweni from Mtubatuba is taking part in the first leg of the race starting from London, UK this August. She says: “It was my first time overseas. I have learnt so many things, like I can’t drive a car or bicycle but I can drive a boat helming! I now have the confidence to teach people to hoist a mainsail and how parts of the boat work.

“The highlights have been the times when I haven’t been seasick. For me the most challenging part has been the seasickness and the watch system sleeping four hours on and four hours off. I have learnt the importance of teamwork, sailing is nice but sometimes it’s challenging, it requires everyone to work as a team to keep the boat moving and it’s inspired me very much. Now I feel I have found myself and I know what I want to do with my life.”

The Foundation’s chairman Dirk Van Daele participated in the 2009-10 edition of the Clipper Race and saw a similar project make a profound difference for young people from deprived inner city areas in Europe. He launched the first initiative in 2013 and created the Foundation last year to provide longer term support and development opportunities for the selected candidates from challenging backgrounds in South Africa.

Dirk says: “These young people have been removed from their daily routine in their local communities and out of their comfort zones. They have all embraced the experience and already achieved something extraordinary completing the intense training.

“I know the race will broaden their horizons and grow their confidence and leadership skills as they continue to be exposed to the world around them. We witnessed a big impact on our participants in the last race and anticipate a similar life-changing experience again.”

In this edition of the race the Sapinda Rainbow Foundation crew members will help raise awareness and funding for innovative research into the long term effects of HIV treatment by the Ndlovu Care Group in Limpopo, South Africa, where one in five of the population is infected with the virus.

The candidates have now been allocated to a professional skipper who will lead their team which includes people of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities. They will each complete a single leg of the race and learn to work, live and compete together in challenging yet highly rewarding situations against everything that Mother Nature has to throw at them, as well as having the opportunity to travel to exciting destinations as they race across the world’s oceans.

Clipper Race chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston has been involve in many youth development projects through sailing and sits on the Sapinda Rainbow Foundation Advisory Board. He is also personally mentoring some of the young people participating in the initiative.

Find out more about the Foundation and the Ndlovu Care Group here.

The eight crew and two reserves are:

Name Age Town Leg
Khulekani Ben Makhanya 22 Mtubatuba, Kwazulu-Natal Leg 5 – Whitsundays, QLD, Australia to Qingdao, China via South East Asia - 7,400 miles/ 11,900 km around 53 days
Rveida Lungelo Mthethwa 19 Mtubatuba, Kwazulu-Natal Leg 2 – Rio, Brazil to Cape Town, SA - 3,390 miles/ 5,455 km around 18 days
Zanele Mweni 18 Mtubatuba, Kwazulu-Natal Leg 1- UK to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 5,630 miles/ 9,060 km around 33 days
Siphamandla Ngcobo 23 Durban, Kwazulu-Natal Leg 8 – East Coast America, Derry-Londonderry, NI, UK - 3,750 miles/ 6,050 km around 22 days
Lerato Bridgette Masombuka 19 Bronkhorstspruit, Gauteng Leg 7 – West Coast to East Coast USA, via Panama Canal - 5,100 miles/ 8,200 km around 38 days
Sewisa Lawrence Magane 22 Groberlsdal, Limpopo Leg 3 – Cape Town, SA to Albany, WA, Australia - 4,700 miles/ 7,560 km around 23 days
Boitumelo Charlotte Maila 21 Dennilton, Limpopo Leg 6 – Qingdao, China to West Coast America - 5,600 miles/ 9,000 km around 33 days
Thulisile Vanecia Lekalake 21 Kwamhlanga, Mpumalanga Leg 4 – All Australian, Albany WA, Sydney for the Rolex Sydney – Hobart Race, Whitsundays, QLD - 4,200 miles/ 6,760 km around 28 days

Sakhile Khulekani Makhanya

21 Mtubatuba, Kwazulu-Natal Reserve
Rowanie Waldhausen 18 Durban, Kwazulu-Natal Reserve
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