Race helps novices set sail for life

Nine young sailors in yacht crew

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - JAN CRONJE

THE nine young South Africans sail­ing in this year’s Clip­per Round the World Yacht Race gath­ered in Cape Town this week to swop tales and ex­change tips about their ex­pe­ri­ences, as the fleet lay berthed at the V&A Water­front.

The 11- month 65 000km race, the brain­child of Sir Robin Knox-John­ston, the first per­son to sail solo and non-stop around the world, is the only global sail­ing race that trains novice sailors to take part.

The nine are be­ing spon­sored as part of the Sapinda Rain­bow project, a com­mu­nity lead­er­ship ini­tia­tive.

Eight of the young sailors sail one each of the race’s legs on the yacht In­vest Africa, while the ninth acts as a re­serve.

The 12 com­pet­ing 70- foot ocean rac­ing yachts left Rio de Janeiro in Brazil for the start of the sec­ond leg on Oc­to­ber 12. Great Bri­tain, the win­ning yacht, ar­rived in Ta­ble Bay last Satur­day morn­ing.

It was fol­lowed by Henri Lloyd in sec­ond place and In­vest Africa in third.

Noku­lunga Nk­wanya, 20, from Mtu­batuba in KwaZu­luNatal, joined In­vest Africa’s crew in Rio de Janeiro for the sec­ond leg.

She said her train­ing in the months pre­ced­ing the race had paid off.

“The first days were not too hard. I re­mem­bered most of the things I did dur­ing my train­ing,” she said. “But my first three days were not so good be­cause I got sea­sick.”

But the crew and skip­per helped her: “They were there for me. They were sup­port­ive and en­cour­ag­ing, they kept me strong.”

Nk­wanya said af­ter what In­vest Africa skip­per Rich Gould calls the “green mon­ster” had passed, she en­joyed the dy­nam­ics of the race.

The 20-year-old said con­di­tions en route to Cape Town were rough at times.

“It wasn’t easy. There were mas­sive waves cross­ing the South­ern Ocean. It was very cold. But I had to be strong.”

But there were re­wards, such as be­ing on night watch.

“See­ing the moon ris­ing in the mid­dle of the night, see­ing the sun com­ing up. It is very lovely,” she said. “I saw pi­lot whales, dol­phins and fly­ing fish.”

She praised Gould as an in­no­va­tive leader. “He was very open-minded. He let every­body put their thoughts in and share ideas.”

Nk­wanya, who plans to study nurs­ing next year, said the ex­pe­ri­ence had changed her.

“I feel much more ma­ture than be­fore,” she said, adding that con­ver­sa­tions with the boat’s crew had also helped her com­mit to con­tinue with her plan to open an or­phan­age in KwaZulu-Natal.

“( Our talks) made me re­alise there are huge things I can do for dif­fer­ent peo­ple and my com­mu­nity.”

Seated be­side Nk­wanya was Nom­cebo Siyaya, 19, from Dur­ban. She sailed the first leg from the UK to Rio de Janeiro.

Siyaya said af­ter ini­tial nerves, she had en­joyed in­ter­act­ing with the other crew mem­bers. “We spent a lot of time chat­ting, lis­ten­ing to mu­sic,” she said.

This was es­pe­cially true when the yacht reached the dreaded Dol­drums, where there was lit­tle wind.

By the time they reached Brazil, Siyaya said she was happy to be back on land.

The race had taught her the im­por­tance of team­work: “I learnt to work and to com­mu­ni­cate bet­ter. I saw it was im­por­tant to sup­port each other as part of a team. I also im­proved my English.”

And, sur­pris­ingly for her, she im­proved her bak­ing skills.

“Be­fore I didn’t even know how to bake. but now I can make good bread. Ev­ery morn­ing the per­son on ‘mother duty’ has to make bread.”

Siyaya has been ac­cepted to study chem­i­cal engineering at Man­go­suthu Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy, and starts next year.

Lis­ten­ing in­tently to what Nk­wanya and Siyaya had to say was 20- year- old Mbongiseni Dludlu, from Diep­sloot, Gaut­eng. Dludlu will join In­vest Africa’s crew for the the race’s third leg of 4 700 miles to Al­bany, Aus­tralia.

“I am a bit ner­vous, but with my team I think I will do well. There are big waves, and we are go­ing to be do­ing 30 knots.”

● To fol­low the next leg in real time, visit http://yb.tl/clip­per2013

jan.cronje@inl.co.za

PIC­TURE: THOMAS HOLDER

ALL ABOARD: Nom­cebo Siyaya, Mbongiseni Dludlu and Noku­lunga Nk­wanya aboard the In­vest Africa.

PIC­TURE: LEON LESTRADE

HOME WATERS: The 70-foot rac­ing yacht In­vest Africa shortly af­ter ar­riv­ing at the V&A Water­front in third po­si­tion in the race’s third leg last weekend.

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