Young South Africans complete unique global adventure across world’s oceans

Crossing the world’s oceans is no mean feat and for a tag team of nine young South Africans, some of which had never seen the sea before, it has been a life-changing experience as the 40,000 nautical mile Clipper Round the World Yacht Race arrived into London’s St Katharine Docks on Saturday 30 July for the Race Finale.

The nine ambassadors come from a wide range of challenging backgrounds across South Africa and have been sponsored by the Sapinda Rainbow Foundation, with the aim to provide new personal development skills to the young people that they can give back into their communities and use to inspire others.

Aged between 18-23 the ambassadors have each participated in one of the 8 legs that the race is made up of and have worked alongside a team of people of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities on board the South African entry, IchorCoal. They have learnt to work, live and compete together in the world’s longest, toughest ocean challenge, as well as travelling to exciting destinations across the 11-month long race.

Arriving into London, having crossed 3,000 nautical miles of ocean from New York to Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland and Den Helder in the Netherlands is 22 year-old Sakhile Khulekani Makhanya from Matubtuba, KZN. He says:  ”I never sailed before I did the race I am happy and pleased I have done it. I have learnt a lot on the boat and I have met different people from different backgrounds, I have a bond with the team I am proud of them and proud of me. People have told me I am clever and that I need to use the brains to have to be a successful person, my response to them is that I will do that. I now see what they can see in me and it has given me confidence.

“The ocean brings you something that is difficult but you have to keep motivated and I know that this has been the opportunity to prove to myself that I can do things and I have achieved that. I have to thank the Sapinda Rainbow Foundation for taking us from our communities and giving us this experience, it hasn’t been easy but I have achieved a lot and I am going to keep pushing and keep going. I want to go to university so next for me when I get back home is that I will chase my application to study tourism and geography.”

Sakhile was joined by 23 year-old Siphamandla Ngcobo from Durban, KZN. Siphamandla worked hard to complete his matric and is currently doing an internship provided by SETA to acquire experience in Civil Engineering field. He has a desire of opening a construction company that will create employment for young people who dropped out of school.

He says: “Crossing an ocean has been amazing, the support I have been given is fabulous and I think I have gained a lot from this experience. I have learnt responsibilities and grown as a person and I have become much more patient. Experiencing heavy weather and reacting to that and working with the crew made me realise that. Back home I would usually burst at people but on the boat instead of bursting I worked with the crew. I think being in the small living space of the boat you get to learn a lot and can gauge people’s personalities and characters to learn from. I think I have built on myself to be able to adapt to different environments and situations. I want to encourage people that anything is possible.”

Congratulating the ambassadors on their achievement, Foundation chairman, Dirk Van Daele said: “The ambassadors bring a new dimension to the team on board and you can see that. All of the ambassadors have achieved a lot during the race and we look forward to continually working with them and to see how their achievement will impact and inspire others too.”

Dirk participated in the 2009-10 edition of the Clipper Race and saw a similar project make a profound difference for young people from deprived inner city areas in Europe. He launched the first South African initiative in 2013 and created the Sapinda Rainbow Foundation last year to provide longer term support and development opportunities for the selected candidates from challenging backgrounds in South Africa.

This year the Sapinda Rainbow Foundation ambassadors have helped to raise awareness and funding for innovative research into the long term effects of HIV treatment by the Ndlovu Care Group in Limpopo, South Africa, where one in five of the population is infected with the virus.

The Clipper Race has long been recognised as a powerful personal development challenge which provides learning and leadership experiences in a very challenging environment. It is uniquely aimed at amateur crew. It’s divided into eight legs comprising a series of global races and is the only race in the world with its own fleet of twelve 70-foot ocean racing yachts, each with a fully qualified skipper to safely guide the crew.

The race was created by the UK yachting legend Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, who became the first person to sail solo, non-stop, around the world in 1968-69. Robin has been involve in many youth development projects through sailing and sits on the Sapinda Rainbow Foundation Advisory Board; he is also personally mentoring some of the young people participating in the initiative and this year’s ambassadors will be supported by mentors beyond their Clipper Race experience to help them pursue their career goals.

To find out more about the Sapinda Rainbow Foundation ambassadors and their development, visit:

Sapinda Rainbow Project Ambassadors that have taken part in the Clipper 2015-16 Race:

Name Age Town Leg
Makhanya Khulekani Ben 22 Mtubatuba, Kwazulu-Natal Leg 5 – Whitsundays, QLD, Australia to Qingdao, China via South East Asia – 7,400 miles/ 11,900 km around 53 days
Rveida Lungelo Mthethwa 19 Mtubatuba, Kwazulu-Natal Leg 2 – Rio, Brazil  to Cape Town, SA – 3,390 miles/ 5,455 km around 18 days
Mweni  Zanele 18 Mtubatuba, Kwazulu-Natal Leg 1- UK to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – 5,630 miles/ 9,060 km around 33 days
Sphamandla Ngcobo 23 Durban, Kwazulu-Natal Leg 8 – East Coast America, Derry-Londonderry, NI, UK – 3,750 miles/ 6,050 km around 22 days
Masombuka Lerato Bridgette 20 Bronkhorstspruit, Gauteng Leg 7 – West Coast to East Coast USA, via Panama Canal – 5,100 miles/ 8,200 km around 38 days
Magane Sewisa Lawrence 23 Groberlsdal, Limpopo Leg 3 – Cape Town, SA to Albany, WA, Australia – 4,700 miles/ 7,560 km around 23 days
Boitumelo Charlotte Maila 22 Dennilton, Limpopo Leg 6 – Qingdao, China to West Coast Australia – 5,600 miles/ 9,000 km around 33 days
Thulisile Vanecia Lekalake 22 Kwamhlanga, Mpumalanga Leg 4 – All Australian, Albany WA, Sydney for the Rolex Sydney – Hobart Race, Whitsundays, QLD – 4,200 miles/ 6,760 km around 28 days
Sakhile Khulekani Makhanya 22 Mtubatuba, Kwazulu-Natal Leg 8 – East Coast America, Derry-Londonderry, NI, UK – 3,750 miles/ 6,050 km around 22 days
Rowanie Waldhausen 19 Durban, Kwazulu-Natal Reserve