Thuli finds her sea legs on race
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.