Marine Inspirations – another dynamic year forging brighter futures for less-advantaged young Southern Africans
2016 proved yet another active year for the Marine Inspirations initiative, with three youngsters – Bohlale, Loyiso, and Luyolo – flying from South Africa in June to participate in the Palma Superyacht Cup Regatta and experience a multitude of activities and an introduction to the world of super-yachting and the maritime industry. All three young sailors were fortunate to experience the excitement of sailing on winning yachts during the prestigious regatta.
Thanks to the generous support that Marine Inspirations receives from yacht owners, captains, crew-members, yacht managers, industry service companies, and private individuals – all of whom warmly embrace and welcome the Southern African youngsters – their visit to Mallorca provides them with the opportunity of a lifetime.
In October, a further five teenagers from Durban and Cape Town travelled from South Africa to Mallorca to take part in the most recent Marine Inspirations programme, once again offering young people from less-advantaged backgrounds a unique insight into careers in the super-yacht industry. During their stay the five participants, who were selected from candidates at Lawhill Maritime Centre in Cape Town and non-profit Sail Africa Youth Development Foundation in Durban, spoke to Anna Wardley about what the opportunity meant to them, their families and wider communities back in Southern Africa.
Praise Baras (16) said: “My family is so proud of me. I’m learning so much and I can see the opportunities coming.” One of ten siblings, Swaziland-born Baras lives with his brother and says that sailing has become a way of life for him since he responded to an announcement over the school intercom which said: “If you want to go sailing report to the office”. When he arrived at Sail Africa he was 13 years old and had never set foot on a boat before, let alone sailed one.
Through his involvement with Sail Africa, winner of the prestigious Murray & Roberts Jack Cheetham award, Baras has resisted the peer pressure to be involved in crime, drugs and alcohol, which dominate the lives of most young people in his area.
“I do get pressure from my friends who think I’m not cool if I am not doing drugs or alcohol, but every time it happens, I always look at the poor background that I come from. I always want to be different and break the cycle of poverty in my environment and be a better person,” says Baras.
The 16-year-old, who moved to South Africa in 2013, said he continues to be inspired by his mother, who still lives in his native Swaziland. Baras said she always told him to “draw lessons from his background” and “not to associate with crime”. As well as participating in Sail Africa’s programmes, Baras studies at Rossburgh High School and admits that daily survival is a struggle since he and his brother depend on their mother who cannot afford to support them.
“I would love to work on super-yachts. My mum always says ‘Keep going and don’t give up’ and that’s exactly what I’m going to do,” Baras said.
Smangaliso Dlamini (17), who also started sailing in 2013 at Sail Africa, is an orphan and lives with his grandmother. He says he gets his inspiration from his teachers who always say that he should never allow his background to determine his future.
“This made me realise that if I commit myself to my studies I can change my life and the whole situation at home. Sometimes at home I can see that the load gets too heavy for my granny and my uncle to take care of us with my cousins. That gives me an inspiration to do my best in every opportunity I get,” says Dlamini, who had never left Durban, let alone South Africa, before travelling to Mallorca last month.
Dlamini is currently the top performing nautical sciences matric learner in the state of KwaZulu-Natal, an achievement that helped him to secure his spot on the Marine Inspirations programme.
Dlamini, who is currently in grade 12 in JG Zuma High School, says he would like to work as a seafarer one day. “This is a really great opportunity for me. I’m looking forward to everything,” he said. (Since this interview took place, Smangaliso has been guaranteed funding for a maritime study-bursary at Durban University of Technology by a most generous yacht-captain in Mallorca).
Saluse ‘Cake’ Tsengiwe (19), is the eldest of the five who took part in last month’s programme and is a student at Lawhill Maritime Centre in Cape Town.
Having grown up in a township with high crime-rate, Tsengiwe is hoping to forge a career in the maritime industry to create a better future for himself.
“I’m the first person in my family to travel abroad and it’s a totally different world. I’ve never seen anything like this before – today has been the best day ever,” he said, after visiting a number of super-yachts on his first day in Palma, a global hub for the yachting industry.
Tsengiwe said he was hoping to pursue a career in navigation or engineering, and he hoped that he would get an insight into the various careers available, during his time in Spain.
The 19-year-old said he first heard about Marine Inspirations from the two Lawhill Maritime Centre students who took part in the very first programme in 2014. “When they came back they were absolutely buzzing – they couldn’t stop talking about it,” said Tsengiwe, who added that he would be making presentations to his fellow students when he got back.
Phaphama ‘Penguin’ Kepu (18), who was born in the Eastern Cape, is a keen sportsman and is applying the same self-discipline to sailing that he has applied as a runner and a cyclist.
He has been studying at Lawhill Maritime Centre for the last three years and hopes to secure a career in the maritime industry. “I’m very interested in the navigation side but I’m also looking forward to pulling on sails and doing the physical things,” Kepu said.
Like Tsengiwe, the 17-year-old also heard about the opportunity from the first Lawhill Maritime Centre students who took part two years ago and shared their transformational experiences upon their return.
“My family is so happy that I’ve been given this opportunity. I’m determined to make the most of it,” he said, adding: “It still feels like a dream and I’m waiting for my feet to touch the ground.”
Gershwyn Poole (17), another Lawhill Maritime Centre student, says he has had a connection with the sea from a very young age.
“My father always talked about ships and I grew up with seawater in my veins,” he said, adding that his family was “very proud” when he was selected to travel to Spain.
“It’s been totally astonishing to see all these yachts. We just don’t see boats like this in South Africa and they are much more appealing to work on than cargo ships,” he said.
“I want to work with people and I’m looking forward to all the experiences and opportunities here in Spain,” he said.
There was no rest for the Lawhill students on their return from Mallorca as they were lined up to do a presentation to an audience at their school, including staff, sponsors, parents, and fellow pupils, at the Annual Awards Evening on the same day they got back. “I think we’ll be preparing for that on the plane on the way back!” Gershwyn joked.
These five young people were taking part in Marine Inspirations’ fifth initiative over the past three years, which took place from 2 to 11 October on the island of Mallorca in the Mediterranean.
Marine Inspirations was founded in 2014 by South African semi-retired super-yacht captains, Phil Wade and Anthony Just, as a way of giving back after having enjoyed successful careers themselves. In addition to the annual sailing programme in Mallorca, Marine Inspirations has taken its support a step further by acquiring an L26 yacht which will be used to provide practical sailing for Lawhill students.
On Saturday 3 December Marine Inspirations hosted its first Big Bottle of Wine Party in Cape Town. The fundraising event has in the past proved extraordinarily successful in Mallorca, and monies raised at the event at the luxury mansion Ibis House in Constantia will be used towards supporting the new Lawhill Centre sailboat and its maintenance and mooring at False Bay Yacht Club in Simonstown. The event was a resounding success, with great support and enthusiasm generated by attendees.
Phil Wade, co-founder of Marine Inspirations, said: “All the students that we have brought over to Spain have been fantastic and have inspired many adults who have become disillusioned with today’s youth. These guys come over, clean-cut, happy and enthusiastic with a keen desire to suck in as much information as possible. They have created such a great impression that two people in the marine industry in Mallorca have each decided to give a three-year bursary. Others who meet them come forward and offer to pay for air tickets for the next group and donate other time and money to help support our efforts. Anthony and I are very proud of what we have achieved to date and Marine Inspirations is going from strength to strength.”
Debbie Owen, Head of Lawhill Maritime Centre, said that it was “almost impossible” to put into words what the Marine Inspirations support and experience – and all that it encompasses – means to Lawhill’s students.
“For many the experience is one of many ‘firsts’ – from leaving the country and travelling abroad for the first time, to their first time in an airport, let alone an aeroplane and being the first members in their families to travel to foreign shores, not to mention spending time with people of different nationalities and experiencing the super-yacht industry in a very special and unique way, all while being mentored by some of the best people in the industry,” Owen explained.
“It’s a very enriching, life-affirming experience which boosts their self-esteem enormously and shows them that, no matter where they come from, they have the ability to achieve the life they want if they are prepared to work hard and make sacrifices. They are given a brief but important ‘taste’ of the future, which is very motivating and dares them to ‘dream big’,” Owen said.
Jackie DeFin, Strategic Director at Sail Africa, said that the Durban-based non-profit’s partnership with Marine Inspirations had contributed to it being named the winner of the Murray & Roberts Jack Cheetham Award for the best ‘development sports’ organisation in South Africa, with the ability to make champions.
“Champions are not only viewed as sports champions, but as champions in overcoming difficulties such as the life experiences that Praise and Smangliso have faced,” DeFin said.
As part of the judging process for this prestigious award, a group from Sail Africa organisation travelled from Durban to Johannesburg to make a presentation. Amongst the group was Menelisi Mkhize, who took part in the 2015 Marine Inspirations programme and went on to secure a bursary to study at Lawhill Maritime Centre through generous funding from a Mallorca-based yacht management company.
“Menelisi impressed the judges with his discussion about Sail Africa and Marine Inspirations, and how his life has changed by receiving this bursary through Marine Inspirations to attend Lawhill Maritime Centre,” DeFin explained.
Side-Box of Thank You’s
A very big Thank You from the Marine Inspirations team is extended to local Mallorca-based companies and individuals who have supported the initiative since 2014 – amongst many:
Accommodation Palma – Maria Caimari Associates
Arrival Yachts – Yacht Brokerage
Astilleros de Mallorca Shipyard
Complete Freight Marine – Yacht Shipping, Freight, and Storage
Club de Mar Marina
Deckers Crew Uniform Suppliers
Doyle Sails – Sailmakers
Echo Marine Services – Water-maker Systems
Global Services Palma
Mallorca Daily Bulletin
Master Yachts – Superyacht Management and Consultants
MSOS – Medical Support Systems for Yachts
Nautipaints – Chandlery Supply
North Sails – Sailmakers
ObjectPrint – 3D Print Fabrication
OmniAccess – Marine IT Network and Broadband Solutions
Orfeo – Fire Extinguisher Services
Palma Superyacht Cup Event Management
Pie in The Sky – Patisserie Specialist Foods Supply
Shaun Carkeek Design – Naval Architects
STP – Servicios Technicos Portuarios – Shipyard
The Boathouse Restaurant
The Islander Magazine
The Meat and Fish Society – Simon Jones
Ticket Travel Agency Portals Nous
Trabajos En Cabos – Ropes and Splicing (and Dave Bieling, Rigging Specialist)
Yacht Centre Palma – Chandlery Supply
…and, To all of the other service companies, restaurants, and private individuals who have donated valuable time or funding-support; and to the yachts – who’s owners, captains, and crew have taken the time and trouble to support our initiative and guide and show the Marine Inspirations students through the intricate workings of our industry aboard their fine vessels, during many detailed and informative yacht-tours, sailing programmes, and one-to-one discussions.
A very big Thank You to All for more than three years of generous support for Marine Inspirations…!!!
For more information visit: www.marineinspirations.org. Follow ‘Marine Inspirations’ on Facebook and on Twitter @marineinspire
(Anna Wardley – main story and interviews – and Anthony Just – ‘Thank You’s’ and additions/updates)
Notes to editors:
Images attached for free editorial use (Credit: Anthony Just, Terry Clark, Sofia Winghamre-McCarter): The Southern African participants aboard the classic schooner Aloha-J of Cariba and other yachts during their Marine Inspirations programme in Mallorca, Spain.
About Marine Inspirations
The Marine Inspirations initiative provides young people from South Africa and many other countries – who would otherwise not have access to this unique opportunity – with hands-on seamanship experience and an insight into working in the super-yacht and international maritime industry. This is achieved by bringing the youngsters abroad for actual sailing experience, and for them to experience a range of skills and work-experience, and to access maritime connections and contacts so as to improve the reach of their potential future career prospects.
About Lawhill Maritime Centre
By providing students with specialised knowledge and skills in their last three years of secondary schooling, the Lawhill Maritime Centre at Simon’s Town School in South Africa has, for the past 21 years, made it possible for hundreds of young South Africans from financially-disadvantaged backgrounds to embark on successful careers in the maritime and other industries.
Most students begin the Maritime Studies course knowing very little, if anything, about the maritime industry. Some may not even have seen the sea or a ship at close quarters but after three years they emerge from the Lawhill programme with a broad understanding and knowledge of the industry which greatly increases their prospects for post-school employment and/or admission to maritime-related courses at tertiary institutions.
About Sail Africa Youth Development Foundation
Sail Africa began in 2008 when Durbanite yachtsman Craig Millar returned from skippering Durban Clipper, sponsored by the City of Durban, in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. He wanted to give something back to the people of Durban so started a non-profit organisation with the objective to provide education, skills-training and personal development and empowerment through the medium of sail-training for young South Africans, including many whom could otherwise not afford to take part in the sport. Sail Africa is a leader in the field of sail-training in KwaZulu-Natal province, and offers practical experience to township learners studying Nautical Science at school, as well as opening up many opportunities for young people by developing partnerships with organisations such as Marine Inspirations.
For media enquiries contact Seagrass Communications:
Anna Wardley, director
Tel: +44 7793 417754
For Marine Inspirations enquiries:
Phil Wade or Anthony Just , (co-founders)
Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
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