Thuli finds her sea legs on race

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS - By Sharon Small­wood

WHILE a large por­tion of the Clipper crew have never sailed be­fore join­ing the race, Thulisile Vane­cia Lekalake had never even seen the ocean.

The 22-year-old, bet­ter known as Thuli to her friends, is from the South African vil­lage Kwamh­langa Mpumalanga, about 30 min­utes from Pre­to­ria.

It was when the Sapinda Rain­bow Foun­da­tion vis­ited Thuli’s vil­lage that life as she knew it was for­ever changed.

Thuli was one of eight young South Africans se­lected by the foun­da­tion for spon­sor­ship on a leg of the Clipper Round the World Race.

Clipper Race crew re­cruit­ment and de­vel­op­ment di­rec­tor David Cus­worth, who was on the se­lec­tion panel, said can­di­dates from the 2013–14 edi­tion of the race were a shin­ing ex­am­ple of what could be achieved and the lifechang­ing na­ture of par­tic­i­pat­ing in such a tough event “which in­vari­ably teaches crew how to take on new chal­lenges out­side their com­fort zone”.

Thuli, who has cer­tainly been out­side her com­fort zone, none­the­less saw this as “the op­por­tu­nity of a life­time”.

“I was very ex­cited to see the ocean (but) I think the most im­por­tant thing has been be­ing with other peo­ple – my skip­per has been very sup­port­ive so I’ve had the best jour­ney,” she said, on de­part­ing the Clipper yacht Ichor Coal in Air­lie Beach.

Thuli sailed the leg from Albany in Western Aus­tralia to Air­lie Beach, in­clud­ing the world renowned Syd­ney to Hobart Race. At the end of her voy­age, she said she was equally ex­cited about re­turn­ing home and see­ing her fam­ily.

Thuli, who ran a small busi­ness sell­ing ice creams and rent­ing mu­si­cal in­stru­ments, now has as­pi­ra­tions to own and run guest houses and re­sorts.

The aim of the Sapinda Rain­bow Foun­da­tion is for pro­ject par­tic­i­pants to take their new skills back into their com­mu­ni­ties and to in­spire oth­ers.

PART OF THE CREW: Thuli Lekalake had never seen the ocean be­fore join­ing the Clipper fleet.

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