While the country’s – and the world’s – best sailors gathered in Hyeres, France last week for the ISAF World Cup, a very different group of sailors took to the water at Inanda dam in KwaZulu-Natal.
That’s where SA Sailing hosted an introduction to sailing session for a group of first-timers ranging in age from nine to 24.
They are not new to the water, however, as they’re part of seven-time Dusi champion Martin Dreyer’s Change a Life Programme – where they have been learning canoeing.
Laser Pico boats are rather a different prospect, but the group relished the opportunity to try their hand at manoeuvring the larger craft.
‘We took this group as they were already water-aware so that we could get stuck into sailing instruction straight away and not hassle too much about water awareness,” explained Bart Fokkens, one of the SA Sailing instructors.
‘Initially we had an instructor on board but then sent them off on their own under our supervision. They were all really chuffed with this new opportunity to get involved with a new water sport which they can see happening from the other side of the dam,” he added.
Having been given a taste of what sailing is all about, the plan is now to hold monthly sessions with the same group, and also introduce more kids to sailing every month.
‘This is all part of SAS KZN’s Promotion and Transformation of Sailing programme which is supported by the Department of Sports and Recreation KZN,’ explained SA Sailing chairman Peter Hall.
‘Ultimately our aim is to take sailing to areas and communities which may not have had the opportunity to experience what a great sport it is.
‘Who knows, we may just discover the next Asenathi Jim among this group. Asenathi is one of our great role models in SA Sailing. Having come from a township in the Eastern Cape, he is now bidding to compete at his second Olympic Games,’ added Hall.
Jim is, in fact, one of the SA contingent competing in Hyeres, where he and partner Roger Hudson are aiming for another great showing after bagging a top-10 spot at their last World Cup event in Miami in January.
Source : South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee