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Meet Momelezi Funani – RCYC Sailing Academy Administrator

My name is Momelezi Funani , I grew up in Cape Town  but am originally from Nqamakwe, in the Eastern Cape. I joined the RCYC Sailing Academy in June 2017.  In fact, in hindsight the sailing programme was only meant to last the 5 weeks of Learn to Sail. At that time I was doing my 3rd year in Sport Management at Cape Peninsula University of Technology and in the very same year I was required to complete my 6 month internship in order to fully complete my studies.

I then approached Lindani Mchunu the RCYC Sailing Academy Manager and said to Lindani ”Hey, I think what you do is so cool can I shadow you around for the next 6 months of my internship?”  The answer was yes and since then I never looked back. Now I am working for the RCYC Sailing Academy and I am also the L 26 Class Association of South Africa committee member. Below is my story of how I came to join the Learn to Sail program.

As a peer helper from Mowbray campus we received an invitation from CPUT DSA about an initiative to teach youth life skills using sailing as the medium. The Learn to Sail sessions are held at the Royal Cape Yacht Club. When I heard about this opportunity I was immediately excited to join. The main criteria was that students/ youth were required to be able to swim. If not, they will give us an opportunity to learn.

The sail programme lasts for 5 consecutive Sundays and you have to attend all of them in order to graduate. This is a great opportunity for students because sailing sport is a non-traditional sport, especially for young people from disadvantage communities. I am learning so much and enjoying every minute of this experience and would like to thank all the agencies for making it possible for us to be part of something great.

Sailing is a very strange sport because so much of it is out of your hands.  You rely solely on the weather for all of your push. You can personally be as prepared as possible, but if the weather doesn’t want to play along, you cannot change it.  My first time on a boat was very scary, but enjoyable at the same time. I remember it as an absolutely sensational feeling! I tried to learn as much as I could from other team members, as some of them had more experience than me.

I kept my head open to new ideas, new technology and try towards the end of the day even to anticipate what I was going to be told to do. Sailing requires team effort as you have to cover for one another. I found that if you are in a team sport, you’ve got to work together, and you’ve got learn and listen to everyone. During a manoeuvre you got to give 100%, and that means lifting and moving heavy sails and often finding yourself in a space you cannot fully stand up straight in! What adds to making these manoeuvres so complicated is that you are doing all of this on a completely unstable platform.

However the boat becomes its own little city that never stops. When you are on the boat you become intimately aware of its noises, smells and general feel of the boat. You can actually feel the sea state change. My most important life lesson so far is that you have to trust your team mates.  They need you and you’ve got to bring your “A GAME as they rely on you.


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