The future of sailing is clearly in good hands – judging by the recipients at the annual Wits Sports Awards. The sport celebrated several major accolades, including Michaela Robinson being named as the university’s Sports Woman of the Year.
Adding to that massive achievement, the Wits Yacht Club walked away with the Social Media Award while five sailors were awarded Full-Blue Cum Laude colours usually reserved for student athletes who have achieved senior national colours.
These sailors were Emma Clark, Hearn Johnson, Tawanda Chikasha and Michaela and her brother Ryan Robinson. They made up the JM BUSHA 54 Peace team that successfully competed in the Cape to Rio Yacht race earlier this year.
‘Our club have often been overlooked so winning prizes at this year’s Wits Sports Awards meant a lot to me personally and to the club because it’s almost as if we’re finally being taken seriously as a competitive club,’ explained Michaela Robinson. ‘Lots of work has been put into getting to that stage – USSA training camps, team racing regattas, little inter-varsity events, and sail training at Emmarentia Dam every second week.
‘I think Cape to Rio was just what the doctor ordered with regards to being noticed and being taken seriously, so that was very cool – and the fact that each of us individually got recognised and got rewarded for the part we each played in the success of the campaign was very special.
‘That being said, none of us would have come out with Full-Blue Cum Laude colours if it weren’t for JM BUSHA 54, our families, friends and if it weren’t for Wits Yacht Club and Wits Sports so we always need to be thankful to all stakeholders and all the people that played a part in our successes.’
Robinson was the first sailor to claim the top women’s accolade in the history of the Wits Sports Awards. The 20-year-old accounting student still can’t quite get her head around it all.
‘I still haven’t quite come to terms with how prestigious the award is and that I’ve actually won it. From a SA Sailing and university sailing perspective – the sport is being recognised. And by it being recognised and getting all this publicity, it’ll get people interested in the sport and will get them to go to their nearest club and try it out.
‘I was really shocked when I heard my name – it was mind-blowing. I was extremely stoked. But I don’t think it’s really my achievement. It wouldn’t have been possible without the crew – Jonathan, Emma, Hearn, Tawanda and Ryan.
‘I need to do a special shout out to my family because without the input that they’ve had, into what I’ve learned and just supporting me in basically everything I do and always pushing me to learn as much as I can, I definitely wouldn’t have come anywhere near getting this award.
‘Special mention to Ryan because without his presence and support and just being there it wouldn’t be possible. We make a very good team – all my major accomplishments have been with him, we just have this synergy that’s just worked. As much as I’m super honoured and chuffed to be awarded Sports Woman of the Year, I don’t think it is my prize – I think it’s shared among so many people, but specifically with Ryan.’
Speaking about the exceptional achievement, General Manager of SA Sailing Lucy da Freitas added: ‘Congratulations to Michaela and all the other sailors who have been recognised for their awesome achievements. 2020 has been such a strange year for us all so we are thrilled to be able to celebrate our fantastic young sailors. It just goes to show that the future of the sport is in very good hand.’