Sail Africa focuses on local youth

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YOUNG PEOPLE sit down for a snack while their sailing instructor discusses the direction of the wind and quizzes them on how to tack and jibe. Then it’s time to gear up, rig their sails and head out to windward.

Sail Africa Youth Development Foundation (Sail Africa) welcomes students from different schools for weekly sailing lessons.

Among its objectives: to support school children through the sport of sailing and to promote maritime enterprise as a profession.

Cay Hickson of Sail Africa said they offer a range of programs including sailing as a sport on keelboats and dinghies, marine economics curriculum enhancement, practical applications for marine studies students, water safety and swimming lessons, and environmental awareness programs.

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“This year, Sail Africa celebrates 15 years of introducing previously disadvantaged young people to the sport of sailing and the maritime economy,” Hickson said.

She added that Sail Africa youngsters have become professional sailors on the international circuit, competed in races such as the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, co-skippered races such as Cape to Rio and entered the maritime profession.

Courier of Berea visited Sail Africa on Thursday 24th February when iThemba Lethu learners arrived for their weekly sailing lesson.

Sailing instructor, Sunita Henkeman (22) has worked at Sail Africa for three years. She has six years of sailing experience.
“What I love about sailing is the adrenaline rush as the boat picks up speed. What I love about teaching is when you see how far your students are going without you , when you’ve taught all you can and you see them achieve their goals,” she said.

While sailing has traditionally been a male-dominated sport, Henkeman said more and more girls are getting into it.
“We need more girls in sailing. We have our own girls sailing program. More girls are signing up, and we’re showing guys how it’s done,” she said.

Zukile Moto, a Bonela resident and iThembu Lethu educator, said 15 children from the center visit Sail Africa every week.

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“It’s a different environment for the kids, it’s something they’re not exposed to as much. They are usually exposed to other careers such as police work or nursing. We wanted them exposed to sailing so they weren’t restricted. We select children interested in sailing to attend sailing lessons. They adore him. There are other learners who are interested in sailing now after hearing about it from these learners,” he said.

Sail Africa operates from the University of KwaZulu-Natal Sailing and Rowing Club known as Caprice in Durban Marina. –
“We have formed working partnerships with other organizations in the area known as Wilson’s Wharf Precinct, working closely with Durban Marina, Point Yacht Club, Royal Natal Yacht Club, Durban Rowing Club, the Bat Centre, Sea Scouts and Sea Cadets as well as the Maritime Museum all of which fall within the designated harbor festival area,” Hickson said.-

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