Wednesday 13 May 2009

New crew shows what Voortrekker can do

What are we looking at here? for a start we have six (seven?) highly tallented navy guys being allowed to take a forty year old boat out of what was basically storage,then prepare her to do an ocean race crossing,using twenty year old sails (check that main,its an old Hood sail)then enter the boat in one of the worlds best ocean races and do around 3600 miles finishing forth over all!The question now is will the navy do this again and can they get these guys onto a more competitive race boat,I sincerly hope so.

Some of the crew in Simonstown Naval Dock Yard,with Voortrekker on her cradle in the background.

Gusty sailing at the start of the race in Table Bay,Cape Town.

Voortrekker,just started,only 3600 miles to go!

On the 10th January 2009 the iconic yacht Voortrekker set sail, after a gap of 15 years, to compete in the Heineken Cape to Bahia 2009. The yacht is being sailed by a team of seven young sailors trained at the Isivunguvungu sailing school in Simonstown, including three that are now on the schools staff.

The Voortrekker has a rich history of competitive sailing and has been sailed by South African legendary single-handed ocean racers such as Bertie Reed and John Martin.

Due to the vigorous campaigning by Rear Admiral JG Louw and commodore of the RCYC and Race Director John Martin, sponsorship was raised to enable the yacht to set sail. The charity sponsor is Pick n Pay Race4change, a web based sponsorship programme that enables event participants to raise money for charity as they race.

The Isivunguvungu Sailors are competing professionally in the racing class of this prestigious yacht race, and they are also using the opportunity to raise funds for their school, in an effort to afford future young sailors similar opportunities. They are using the Race4change fundraising platform to raise sponsorship.

This entry is a culmination of years of development training where the first ever crew of colour, from Skipper to Bowman, is participating in this prestigious event. I encourage everyone to support these sailors in their endeavor to raise funds for future sailing talent' said John Martin, Commodore of the RCYC and Race Director.

Izivunguvungu, which means 'sudden strong wind' in Isizulu, is the first school in South Africa to provide opportunities for disadvantaged children. The project teaches life skills through the medium of sail training and boatbuilding. The School also has a focus on education based on the environment, health and literacy. The children do not only learn to sail; the array of activities they are exposed to and the mentorship they receive are invaluable to creating adults for the future of South Africa.

'At present Voortrekker is sailing really well. I gave them advice on which route to take, which is the more northerly route to ensure they keep in the wind most of the time. They have been averaging 10 knots since they left and have had no problems on board. On handicap, they are lying 4th at present, but over the next three days their routing should pay off and I expect them to go up in the handicap ratings' said John Martin

Voortrekker's return to the race is appropriate, since the yacht was instrumental in motivating the first staging of the classic South Atlantic Race in 1971.

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