Race helps novices set sail for life
Nine young sailors in yacht crew
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
ALL ABOARD: Nomcebo Siyaya, Mbongiseni Dludlu and Nokulunga Nkwanya aboard the Invest Africa.
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.