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SA’s developing sailors to battle it out in historic regatta

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For the first time in South African racing history, development sailors from around the country will battle it out at the Durban Youth Regatta, starting this weekend.

Aimed at youth between the ages of 15 and 20, this is the first time a regatta has taken place specifically with development sailors in mind – a massive step forward in the transformation of the sport in South Africa.

Organised by the eThekwini Maritime Cluster, the Sail Africa Youth Development Foundation, Royal Natal and Point Yacht Clubs, and supported by SA Sailing and eThekwini Municipality Sport and Recreation Unit, the event is expecting to attract more than 50 sailors from various clubs.

The races will take place from 31 March to 4 April, with the various courses all starting out from Durban Marina, giving spectators the opportunity to catch the action from the roof of Sail Africa and from Wilson’s Wharf.

The expected 10 teams taking part will be comprised of six sailors, and at least four of the six need to be development sailors or previously excluded from sailing.

Looking forward to taking on the challenge, is Durban sailor Mongezi Mfeka, who is skippering a team made up chiefly of youngsters from Rossburgh High School.

‘I have been preparing my team over the past few months. Getting together to sail in club events is often difficult, as races are either on Wednesday nights or Sundays when transport is a problem. However, we have done our best and I think we have a great team,’ said Mfeka, who is on his way to becoming an ISAF coach and is serving his learnership at Sail Africa.

Sail Africa is a youth development foundation, currently overseeing many budding young sailors hard at work preparing boats, scraping and antifouling in order to ensure the best performances possible. Director Jackie Barnard explained: ‘The skills they learn from this are more valuable than the sailing. These are skills they can take on into life.’

Thato Tsautse, MD of eThekwini Maritime Cluster, explained: ‘Sailing as a sport has always been for a selected few who can afford access to such facilities. The consequence is that many youth living in Durban and other port cities have not had the opportunity to become familiar with the maritime environment, despite living close to the coast. This is a combined effort to promote the transformation of sailing through this regatta.’

Chairman of SA Sailing Peter Hall added: ‘The Durban Youth Regatta is a wonderful initiative which really has transformation at heart. Through this competition many youngsters have had an introduction to our wonderful sport.

‘We are looking forward to further nurturing them as they grow in confidence and develop a true love of sailing – which really is a sport that can be enjoyed by everyone.’

The regatta is a prelude to the eThekwini Maritime Cluster’s second Annual Maritime Summit that starts on 3 April at the Maritime School of Excellence.

Picture of Durban’s sailors Mongezi Mfeka and Ntuthuko Makhathini, who will both be involved in this weekend’s Youth Development Regatta courtesy of Sophie Thompson


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