In a history-making voyage, the first complete crew from the Royal Cape Yacht Club Sailing Academy hailing from marginalised communities has crossed the finish line of the 50th Cape2Rio yacht race, after a thrilling battle to gain third position.
The dreams of five young South Africans came true on Thursday as their boat, the Alexforbes ArchAngel, arrived in Rio de Janeiro after 24 days and a 3300 nautical mile ocean crossing from Cape Town to Guanabara Bay.
Skipper Sibusiso Sizatu (30), first mate Daniel Agulhas (29), Renaldo Tshepo Mohale (29), Azile Arosi (22) and Justin Peters (21) departed on January 2, with the backdrop of the historic Robben Island reminding them of Nelson Mandela’s words, "It always seems impossible until it's done”.
The final hours of Alexforbes ArchAngel’s race saw the boat neck and neck with their closest competitor, Argonaut, eventually beating them by 23 minutes.
“This is the achievement of our lives. So many years, so many obstacles, yet we kept moving forward. Thank you to my crew, the Royal Cape Yacht Club Academy, our sponsor Alexforbes and our supporters. When we were down at sea, your support drove us. This one is for you,” said Sizatu.
“Crossing the meridian was a moment we won’t forget, as well as the last 16 hours, where we were all hands on deck racing for a podium position.”
Born into disadvantaged communities, the crew have broken stereotypes of race and class and demonstrated that it is possible for people from diverse backgrounds to participate in sports such as yachting, previously accessible only to the privileged few.
Sizatu said in the future, he hoped to see an all-female crew from the Academy doing a race of similar stature, empowering more women in the sport.
Viresh Maharaj, Alexforbes Executive, said the team had made the country proud. “Sibu and his crew are an example to all of us that with the right support, determination and grit, dreams can and do come true. Congratulations to our five heroes – you overcame your personal circumstances and defied society’s expectations by going boldly into this race. Wenze kakuhle.”
The Alexforbes ArchAngel crew have made history in the golden anniversary of the iconic race. Sixteen teams lined up at the start, hailing from South Africa, Brazil, India, Italy and the United States of America, with three boats withdrawing during the challenging event. The overall race was won by Atalanta, with Ray of Light in second position.