Cape Town - In a uniquely South African story of hope, courage and grit, six youths from the townships of Cape Town will be participating in the iconic Cape2Rio yacht race next year.
The sailors, from Masiphumelele, Khayelitsha, Grassy Park and Athlone, have been trained by the Royal Cape Yacht Club (RCYC) Sailing Academy.
Their yacht, the Alexforbes ArchAngel, leaves Cape Town for Rio on January 2, sailing 3 300 nautical miles across the South Atlantic Ocean, relying not only on the skills of the crew but also the support of the nation.
The crew comprises skipper Sibusiso Sizatu (30), first mate Daniel Agulhas (29), Renaldo Tshepo Mohale (29), Thando Mntambo (23), Azile Arosi (22) and Justin Peters (21).
The 2023 running of the iconic Cape2Rio yacht race will mark the 50th anniversary of the race first won by Ocean Spirit. The yacht was co-skippered by world-renowned sailor, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail single-handedly non-stop around the world.
The Alexforbes ArchAngel crew seeks to emulate the pioneering spirit of the first race by being the first team from their communities to make the crossing and, in doing so, act as a symbol of hope to all others who face the challenges of inequality, poverty and marginalisation.
Sizatu said going to Rio with the academy sailors has been his dream.
“I have no words to describe how I feel about participating in the race. It's just an amazing feeling,” he said.
“It broke my heart that we were unable to participate in the last Cape2Rio race as we had already promised our students. But I always hoped that one day our dream will be fulfilled. Yes, there were times when I thought that this is never going to happen, but our team did not give up hope. We trained, persevered and continued preparing, even though our path to Rio was not clear.
“I am amazed by the things that we have achieved just by being present and keeping our heads up despite the challenges faced. Together, we are about to make history as the RCYC Sailing Academy.”
Commodore Neil Gregory of the RCYC added: “The grit and determination of the RCYC Sailing Academy crew combined with the confidence shown by their sponsor is turning what is already one of the bucket-list ocean races into an experience that all of South Africa can connect with.”
Viresh Maharaj, Executive for Strategy and Customer Experience at Alexforbes, described the six as South African heroes in the making.
“The crew are all people born without privilege and who have faced hardships, but through hope and courage, they are ready to attempt what was previously impossible for them because of exclusion, not because of capability, attitude or competence,” he says.