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South African sailors celebrate Rainbow Foundation heritage with Clipper Race

by Grace Kitching 15 Nov 06:27 PST
First black South African to participate in the Sydney-Hobart, is remembered as the Rainbow Foundation is renamed in his honour © Clipper Race

As the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race fleet prepares to set sail from Cape Town on Sunday (17 November 2019) for the next leg of its 2019-20 series to Fremantle, Australia, former young South African sailors on the 40,000 nautical mile global challenge have been participating in a day of emotional reunions and introductions to celebrate their 'Dare To Lead' heritage with this year's team that is also their legacy.

Over the last seven years Dirk Van Daele, a European financier and philanthropist, has partnered four teams in the Clipper Race and established the Rainbow Foundation to develop the leadership qualities of young black South Africans. Now the concept is being spread globally by the Dare To Lead partnership.

Twelve of the original Rainbow Foundation 'ambassadors' who first sailed in 2013-14 and 2015-16 aboard Invest Africa and Ichor Coal, with some also sailing on Dare To Lead in 2017-18, met up with the Clipper 2019-20 Race skipper and crew of Dare To Lead to share their common heritage.

In addition they marked the sad death of one of their fellow ambassadors who was murdered last year after turning his life around through the programme which was renamed in his honour today.

Dirk Van Daele said: "Dare To Lead is built on the concept of developing leadership skills through sailing that can be translated back into commercial companies, public organisations and local communities. The qualities that make winning teams on the water can often be similar back on dry land.

"We have a proud heritage dating back to the initiative we launched in South Africa in 2013. Now, seven years later, the Dare To Lead concept team carries this legacy around the globe with the aim of attracting additional partners for future races who would like to create their own youth development programmes in other parts of the world, including China."

All of the ambassadors participating this weekend have progressed into community role-models and are pursuing diverse education and career paths from professional yachtsmen to electrical engineers, a firefighter, agriculture, tourism, social community development and even with the United Nations. All demonstrating that they 'Dare To Lead'.

Ben Makhanya was just out of school with no real outlook or prospects and is now working as a First Mate in Cape Town. He said: "The experience I got from sailing in the Clipper Race led to me achieving my Yachtmaster qualification after further training back in South Africa. This enabled me to work with the 2 Oceans Maritime Academy to help students prepare to get their Yachtmasters."

Charlotte Maila is an orphan from Limpopo and had a tough life on her own growing up. Now she is studying to join the Fire and Rescue Service after her life-changing experience. She said: "I shared my story and the experience I had in the Clipper 2015-16 Race to motivate the young people I work and live with back in the village. I'm still sharing with the guys I'm studying with and we do knots almost every day."

Mbongseni, known as Hitman CEO, has been determined to benefit from his experience and now has a strong focus applying entrepreneurial flair to his love of music and has launched a clothing label. He commented: "Sailing for me is the definition of life: it requires the same methods or ways you implement in life generally. It taught me a lot about patience, respect, keeping in mind that some days are sunny and some days are stormy. Leadership, hard work and, most importantly, team work prove that if we work together we can do better."

One of the former ambassadors who was sadly murdered last year was particularly missed and remembered. Masibulele Liyaba, known simply to friends as Sbu, had made an incredible journey from being a self-confessed 'gangster' in the mining town of Orkney in the North West South African province near Johannesburg, to gaining his educational qualifications and setting his sights on work and family.

He not only became a yachtsman, and the first black South African to compete in the Sydney-Hobart race in 2013 aboard the Invest Africa Clipper Race entry, but also an advocate for the project and ended up sharing a stage in Berlin with actor Idris Elba for a charity premiere of the Nelson Mandela biopic Long Walk to Freedom in aid of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund. Mandella passed away while Sbu was at sea. Tragically Sbu became a victim of violence just over a year ago when he was stabbed to death when he visited his grandmother back in Orkney.

In his memory Dirk Van Daele has decided to rename the foundation as the Liyaba Rainbow Programme and the new logo was applied to the Dare To Lead yacht hull in a short ceremony this afternoon. After helping to reveal the logo Mbongseni added his own powerful recollection of Sbu welcoming him into Australia.

He added: "I remember Sbu with great warmth. I will never forget seeing him waving and smiling on the pontoon to welcome me. He was taking over for the leg around Australia. It touched me seeing one of us waiting there for the handover. That was a special moment I remember."

Dirk explained: "The new name not only symbolises a shared heritage and our continuing partnership withn the Clipper Race, but also sees Sbu's name back on the ocean that helped transform his life."

The day concluded with a Heritage Reception when the Liyaba Rainbow programme ambassadors and the current Dare To Lead crew shared their stories and experiences.

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