Another record-breaking fundraising effort at the Marine Inspirations Big Bottle of Wine Party will help to secure the future of Southern Africa’s young sailors.
Proving once again its status as one of Mallorca’s liveliest fundraising evenings, the Marine Inspirations Big Bottle of Wine Party was back this spring with gusto. Held on Friday 17th March, guests convened at the delightful Club de Mar Lounge, as the sun dipped lazily behind the horizon bathing them in a warm glow. But a glow of a different kind set in once darkness had fallen, this time from the delicious special label organic red wine generously provided by Carlos Feliu’s eco-agroturismo vineyard, Can Feliu.
The small charity behind this ever-popular soirée has big ambitions: Founded in 2014 by Phil Wade and Anthony Just, Marine Inspirations is an initiative that works with Lawhill Maritime Centre in Cape Town, Sail Africa Youth Development Foundation in Durban, Royal Cape Yacht Club, and other yacht clubs and sailing academies in South Africa, flying selected students to Spain for an experience of a lifetime yachting adventure in Mallorca. The end goal is to introduce these youngsters to the yachting environment and another potential career option beyond the traditional merchant navy pathway. The trip also serves to boost self-esteem and equip students with valuable nautical skills.
Keen to spread their message, the Marine Inspirations initiative now has a firm network of loyal supporters, but is ever committed to finding more. Of these, Master Yachts Consultancy sponsored catering for the event and also bid enthusiastically at the auction, while more-ish finger food was provided by talented chef, Tomeu Caldentey from Taronja Negre Mar. Local photographer Sofia Winghamre-McCarter lent her services free of charge, capturing the jovial mood.
The 145 attendees brought their thirst, quaffing all 45 litres of the three signature ‘big bottles’ in just two hours. But known for never letting a guest reach the bottom of their glass, hosts were on hand for top-ups, breaking out another 18 magnums. “It was certainly a lively party,” Wade enthuses. “We did great selling the raffle tickets as well as with the auction, and on the night raised €11,100. The total since has climbed to over €12,000 with a generous donation of €1,000 from the Pinmar Golf Charity. We’re expecting a few more donations in the coming weeks too.”
On offer at the auction was a diverse selection of generously donated items and experiences, ranging from an Air BnB break in Galicia, provided by Pilar Arevalo, to the latest iPhone, donated by e3 Systems, and a specially commissioned oil painting of a square rigger by renowned marine artist Roger Murray. Once the auctioneering was done-and-dusted guests got down to the serious business of making shapes on the dance floor to the musical stylings of Anthony Just and Andrew Spence and special guests, with a die-hard contingent still standing as late as 2:30am.
As a result of funds generated by the party, Marine Inspirations will be flying two students over to Mallorca for the Palma Superyacht Cup in June, with an opportunity still available for a third sponsor to get involved. Later, in October, four Lawhill students will be flown over for a Mallorcan yachting experience. “It looks like we will have girls visit us for the first time,” Wade explains, “We’re still in discussion as to whether we will host an all girl or co-ed crew,” he says.
Of the impact Marine Inspirations has had on Lawhill students, its head-teacher Debbie Owen, says: “The lives of 18 young men from Lawhill Maritime Centre and Sail Africa Youth Sailing Foundation have been greatly enriched in the past three years through the Marine Inspirations initiative. It’s an experience which has introduced them to a world very different to the one they know at home, one that has broadened their horizons, inspired them to achieve, and most importantly, increased their sense of self-worth.”
One youngster from Sail Africa, Smangaliso Dlamini, from KwaMashu in KwaZulu, had already finished his secondary schooling when he flew to Spain, but wanted desperately to pursue a career at sea, which meant that he had to attend the Durban University of Technology before being able to apply for a job on a ship. One of Marine Inspirations’ staunch supporters, Captain Steve Ray, an American super yacht captain, generously stepped in and paid for his tuition.
For more information about Marine Inspirations visit www.marineinspirations.org or search for ‘MarineInspirations’ on Facebook.