Three young African sailors, Loyiso Jantjies, Bohlale Motsieloa, and Luyolo Koni, all 17 years of age and students at the Lawhill Maritime Centre in Simonstown, South Africa, arrived in Palma in mid June on a new Marine Inspirations seamanship training initiative focused around the dynamic Palma Superyacht Cup event.
The three young sailors had been selected based on merit and aspiration from among their eager and envious classmates to spend fourteen days in Mallorca, hoping to sail aboard one or another of the world’s most prestigious super-yachts and to share in the excitement surrounding the tough dueling that takes place out in Palma Bay during regatta week.
While seamanship and sail-training are at the core purpose of the boys’ visit to Mallorca, so as to learn-the-ropes and gain insight into the many aspects of shipboard life on sailing and motor-yachts, the students are also offered an insider’s look into the broader scope of the industry and the complex network of supply and assistance companies that provide backup for the yachts and crew. They are also introduced to many of the historical and cultural aspects of Mallorca and the Balearic Islands during their stay.
Traveling away from home and family for the first time, and never having boarded an aircraft before, an eye-opening experience certainly awaited the three youngsters in the grand marinas and Old City of Palma, the bustle of the Regatta Village, and out racing on the waters of Palma Bay.
The Marine Inspirations initiative, founded by captains Phil Wade and Anthony Just, is designed to give aspirant young sailors from less-advantaged backgrounds the opportunity to gain international hands-on experience in the practical maritime world, as an extension of their class-room learning curriculum or informal sailing-school tutoring at home in Southern Africa or elsewhere in the world.
To qualify for the programme, students must express a firm desire to become sea-going mariners, either in the deck-side or engineering sectors. Their two weeks in Palma under the mentoring of Phil and Anthony and other experienced supporters provides an action-packed focus on all aspects of seamanship and related practices, from the very basic rope-work skills, through to engine maintenance, deck maintenance, sail-handling, navigation, helming, cooking, provisioning, and covering many other critical shipboard tasks.
It can naturally be expected that certain young students entering school begin their journey into the maritime field with a set goal and career-path in mind; however, during their two week orientation aboard various yachts that they sail aboard or visit, the Marine Inspirations students sometimes find that they are actually more drawn and better suited to other avenues of the industry that they had not previously considered. The experience gained on the Marine Inspirations programme therefore provides a valuable guidance-counseling opportunity through which the students can potentially redirect their tertiary maritime studies on a more suitable and appropriate course once they finish high-school at the Lawhill Maritime Centre at age 18 or 19.
To expand upon this aspect of guidance and orientation, the Marine Inspirations team also request from industry colleagues and local businesses to allow the students an ‘inner view’ on the workings and responsibilities of these crucial yacht suppliers and support-companies; like shore-side engineering firms, crew uniform suppliers, yacht painting companies, crew agents, yacht management companies, yacht brokerage companies, refit and repair shipyards, freight forwarding groups, and IT support organisations.
With a brief ‘birds-eye-view’, attained over a short two-week period, of the diverse career possibilities available within the yachting industry, it is conceivable that – after their first few years of tertiary study and active sea-time – the young sailors may eventually elect to shift direction and specialize in one or other of the support sectors within yachting or the maritime field that may suit them better. The Marine Inspirations team continues to advise the students regarding this once they start to move up the educational and sea-going ladder.
In for a spectacular treat….
Loyiso, Luyolo, and Bohlale were certainly in for a treat during their visit to Mallorca. The captains and owners of four of the most prestigious yachts racing in the Cup event most graciously and generously invited the boys to participate aboard their yachts during the racing.
Beginning with a practice-session in regatta training aboard the powerful Perini Navi 38m “P2”, the youngsters were then split up and were invited to race individually; one aboard the mighty schooner “Mariette of 1915”, one aboard the Dubois sloop “Tenaz” and the Baltic rocket “Win Win”, and one remaining to continue aboard “P2”. None of the boys would have suspected before the fact that all of the aforementioned yachts would end up recognized on the prize-giving podium, with three of the yachts winning their class, and “Win Win’ taking overall honours. A proud moment indeed for three young African sailors abroad for the first time – and likewise up on the winners’ podium unexpectedly as well.
Many other captains, crew-members, support-company staff and yacht enthusiasts generously provided their time and knowledge during yacht tours and company visits for the three youngsters during the days remaining after the regatta, and the Marine Inspirations team is as ever eternally grateful to all who assisted and gave the boys these insights and opportunities.
This particular initiative in June was the fourth such Marine Inspirations programme taking place in Mallorca, and the organizers advise that they are very pleased to have mentored a total of twenty-three young students in this way – both in Palma and in the Caribbean – since the initiative was founded in mid-2014. The names of all generous supporters of the Marine Inspirations philosophy are too many to list here conclusively, but a very special thanks goes out from the founders to the owners and crew of “Tenaz”, “Mariette of 1915”, “P2”, and “Win Win” – all of whom warmly embraced the young sailors and encouraged their future endeavors in the maritime field.
A special thank-you must be extended to Kate Branagh and the organizers of the once-again superb Superyacht Cup event, and to all of those busy captains, crew, and supporters who provided their time, expertise, and knowledge in assisting the boys during their stay.