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SEA CHANGE

Young Cape Town sailors set to realise their superyacht dreams with once-in-a-lifetime trip to Spain

Young Cape Town sailors set to realise their superyacht dreams with once-in-a-lifetime trip to Spain
Young Cape Town sailors Simamkele Ntingiso, Nhlakanipho Lebengu and Liqhawe Mdoda on the yacht Homero. (Photo: Supplied)

The chance of a lifetime awaits four pupils in sailing programmes in Cape Town. They are off to Spain to learn more about the superyacht industry and the future it could hold for them.

Four Grade 12s from Cape Town have been selected to experience first-hand the skills needed to navigate the international superyacht industry in Spain this month.

The pupils – Liyabona Njingolo from the Royal Cape Yacht Club Sailing Academy and Simamkele Ntingiso, Nhlakanipho Lebengu and Liqhawe Mdoda from the Lawhill Maritime Centre at Simon’s Town School – will embark on a two-week, all-expenses-paid trip to the port of Palma on the island of Majorca.

Founded in 2014, Marine Inspirations is a mentoring initiative based in Palma that has taught more than 50 students from all over South Africa through its partnership with Lawhill and other institutions that offer maritime-related training or education.

Marine Inspirations prides itself on empowering youngsters through job creation. For nearly a decade its trips to Palma have inspired hard-working young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to thrive in the multibillion-dollar superyacht industry through the education and skills they acquired during the programme.

It is actually possible even if you have a single mother, even if you come from a poor township, even if you come from a place full of gang violence.

Historically, the industry has been out of reach for young South Africans, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

This year’s chosen recruits are ecstatic to experience this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet industry professionals such as those operating in yacht construction, design and technological development.

young Cape Town sailors

Liyabona Njingolo out at sea on a yacht. (Photo: Supplied)

The pupils, who are all in sailing programmes in Cape Town, will also get a chance to sharpen their sailing skills on the Mediterranean Sea by putting their knowledge into practice.

Ntingiso, whose dream is to become a marine engineer, was inspired by former Lawhill pupils who have pursued successful careers in the superyacht industry. He is thrilled to represent his township, Gugulethu in Cape Town, and hopes to inspire “all the kids in the townships and let them know that it is actually possible even if you have a single mother, even if you come from a poor township, even if you come from a place full of gang violence, as I am”.

Ntingiso is still in awe of the opportunity to travel abroad and learn more about an industry that stirs his passion.

“Who would have thought a boy from the streets of Gugulethu would be given this opportunity?” he said.

A Titanic passion

Lebengu, who comes from Welkom in the Free State, “a small place with not [many] opportunities”, said the movie Titanic inspired his love and passion for sailing. He also wants to become a marine engineer and believes going to Spain will give him a clear idea of what the profession entails.

“The maritime industry is broad and it has a lot of opportunities, so going to Spain will be an eye-opening experience for me and give me direction into what I want to do,” said Lebengu.

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The trip to Spain was initially open to four male pupils from Lawhill, but because one of the selected boys was offered a spot on a leadership and rowing camp in Vermont, US, the centre thought it best to offer the vacant spot to a Royal Cape Yacht Club Sailing Academy student.

The criteria to be selected were simple: they had to have a valid passport, be 18 years old and show an interest in sailing, or be part of the current sailing programme.

Njingolo too was raised by a single mother, but his hometown is Nqgeleni, near Umtata in the Eastern Cape.

He said the European trip gave him “hope that good things are ahead of me”, adding that he cannot wait to learn more about the superyacht industry and explore the opportunities.

“I love to sail, so doing what I love as a career would be incredible. I want to experience and learn more,” he said.

Marine Inspirations co-founder Phil Wade, a retired superyacht captain, believes in the continued success of the industry. Wade founded the mentoring programme with a fellow captain Anthony Just after they reflected on how the quality of the maritime training they had received in South Africa had contributed significantly to their successful careers.

The four matric pupils off to Mallorca in Spain to gain superyacht experience courtesy of Marine Inspirations are, from left, Liyabona Njingolo from the Royal Cape Yacht Club, and Simamkele Ntingiso, Nhlakanipho Lebengu and
Liqhawe Mdoda from the Lawhill Maritime Centre at Simon’s Town School. (Photo: Supplied)

“This type of exposure is crucial to [the pupils’] future success in the international maritime industry,” said Wade.

“However, we wouldn’t be able to offer this opportunity if it weren’t for the fantastic work being done by Lawhill and the Royal Cape Yacht Club, which works hard to educate and equip our young sailors to make the most of this opportunity.”

Lawhill programme administrator Faye Kula said the trip would be an opportunity for the youngsters to apply all they have learnt and benefit from the mentoring and “expertise of highly experienced professionals” such as Wade.

“The value of this cannot be understated and holds incredible significance in the students’ lives,” said Kula. DM

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R29.

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