Charlotte says: “I am so excited to start racing and join my fellow crew members. I am looking forward to learning and working with people from different backgrounds, cultures and religions around the world on board.”
Charlotte has joined the IchorCoal entry, one of twelve Clipper 70 foot ocean racing yachts racing across the longest and most challenging leg of the race. The teams will face tough yet exhilarating conditions with towering waves, howling winds, and high speed surfs on the world’s largest and deepest ocean. The fleet will also cross the International Date Line and at times its closest human neighbours will be the astronauts orbiting above them in the international space station.
“I think the most challenging thing for me will be if I get seasick, I was quite seasick on the race training but I am willing to learn and get stuck in so I think that will help. I think I will bring courage and motivation to the team. My fellow ambassadors have given me lots of advice about the good and bad experiences such as the storms, the coldness and communicating with the team. I definitely think I will learn some new things about myself. I am hoping to get mentally stronger as an achievement for taking part in the race,” Charlotte adds.
Charlotte was born and raised in small village of Elandsdoorn. She lost her mother in 2002 whilst doing her Grade 4, leaving her alone with her sister who later moved to Witbank. Charlotte was identified through the Ndlovu Children’s Programme and her involvement in Ndlovu Choir kept her away from the street and distracted her from the pressures of life faced by many young people. She is currently doing kick boxing to keep healthy and recently completed her Matric and says that when she completes her race she is determined to impact young people from her community and further her studies.
She says: “My friends, family and community are excited that I am doing the race and that someone from my community is doing something different. It’s a motivation for the young people especially to the dropouts and the young teenage parents and they are looking forward to meeting me and hearing about my journey when I get back.”
The Clipper Race was set up by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world in 1968-9. His vision was to enable people, regardless of their sailing history the chance to take part in ocean racing no matter what their background.
The ten ambassadors were shortlisted to take part in the race from nearly 200 applicants by the Sapinda Rainbow Foundation and come from a wide range of challenging backgrounds across South Africa. The opportunity, funded by the Foundation, aims to provide new personal development skills to the ambassadors that they can give back into their communities and use to inspire others. They will be supported by mentors beyond their Clipper Race experience to help them pursue their career goals.
The Foundation chairman, Dirk Van Daele, participated in the 2009-10 edition of the Clipper Race and saw a similar project make a profound difference for young people from deprived inner city areas in Europe. He launched the first South African initiative in 2013 and created the Sapinda Rainbow Foundation last year to provide longer term support and development opportunities for the selected candidates from challenging backgrounds in South Africa.
Each ambassador is taking part in a leg of the race and this year the Sapinda Rainbow Foundation crew members will help to raise awareness and funding for innovative research into the long term effects of HIV treatment by the Ndlovu Care Group in Limpopo, South Africa, where one in five of the population is infected with the virus.
Charlotte adds: “I think this experience will have a big impact on me and my community when I get back home. I think it will show that you can achieve and stand up for yourself and your future, take one opportunity at a time. I want to show people that in life, not all things come easy, you must face challenges for you to grow, you have to fail before you succeed.”