Olympic 2012 Sailors endorse the ZVSC

olympics1 RaceAhead“The Zeekoevlei Sailing Centre is a fine example of a South African community development project which through the goodwill of its founders, managers and funders helps to develop the lives and skills of less fortunate members of our society.

Using the sport of sailing as the vehicle for individual and team development, the ZVSC provides youngsters from the areas surrounding Zeekoevlei in the Western Cape with the opportunity to experience the excitement and exhilaration of learning to control a sailing craft.

As they develop their skills and understanding within the sport, the ZVSC affords these youngsters the chance to learn to race both sailing dinghies and keel boats. Racing then offers the opportunity to significantly enhance one’s physical, technical, tactical and strategic skills, as well as the chance to develop one’s character in terms of courage, discipline, resilience and organisation.

As one progresses within the sport of sailing, opportunities arise to travel and compete nationally and ultimately internationally, and values learned and life-long friendships formed through these experiences can never be overstated.  I started my sailing career by learning to sail at Zeekoevlei and we still regularly return here to train and to work with young sailors. It is wonderful to see so many bright eyed youngsters at the ZVSC enjoying all that the sport of sailing has to offer.

We look forward to having ZVSC graduates with us in future on the high performance and international training programmes undertaken by RaceAhead Foundation.”

Roger Hudson and Asenathi Jim

RaceAhead Foundation



A letter from our friend and Commodore at Hermanus Yacht Club: Fire at Hermanus Yacht Club December 2012

Dear friends of Hermanus Yacht Club

Many of you will have heard about the terrible fire that ripped through the valley between Hermanus & Stanford on the 29th of December 2012. We have had hundreds of messages from concerned sailors and friends as well as some great pledges of support. Many people don’t really know the detail so here goes…

On Christmas eve there was an electric storm and a bolt of lightning started a fire in the mountains of the Hemel & Aarde, way to the west of the Yacht Club and of no real consequence, or so we thought. On the 26th of December temperatures soared to over 40 degrees and the barometer fell unusually low for this time of the year. We woke up on the 27th and a strong north-westerly started blowing and the temperatures remained fairly high. As most locals will know this is not the prevailing wind for this time of the year. By midday on the 28th the fire that everyone hadn’t really taken too much notice of (including the authorities) fanned up and started steadily moving eastwards towards the Vogelgat Nature reserve. All day we watched as the wind gently moved it along the back of the Maanskyn Kop (the big mountain behind the club). Everyone seemed sure that the wind would change to South East and push the fire back on itself and ultimately lead to its extinction.

That evening some of us went to Stanford for an early meal with our kids and when we walked out of the restaurant we realised that the fire had come over the top of the mountain and was now descending towards the road on both the Western and Eastern slopes either side of the Yacht Club.

Many women decided to leave the club with their kids and head for home, a mild panic set-in although many of us thought this can’t get any worse. We set up a very informal watch on the jetty and some members started packing up and putting valuables into their cars and moving boats etc. down to the water’s edge on the hard. Many members decided to stay the night and duly went to bed, me included. Just before 3am I heard an urgent knock and was told the fire was now really close. I opened the door of my cabin and was shocked to see what looked like a very bright and beautiful sunset, the massive blue gums west of the club silhouetted against a very ominous orange sky… the flames were making their way towards us and I heard that the fire had now jumped the road and was heading along the lagoon edge as well as the entire line up to the top of the mountain. A decision was made to evacuate the club immediately and this was when things really kicked into action!

Over 200 people grabbed what they could and headed for Stanford. By now there was no way back to Hermanus as the fire was leaping across the road in several places and the fynbos was burning fiercely. About 10 members who could leave by boat remained and started removing trophies, paintings and Yacht Club memorabilia from the clubhouse and packed them safely into trailers left on the front lawn. We evacuated our manager, her dog and her parrot and prepared them for the worst. We also managed to get the contents of our safes as well as the club computer out of the office before my wife ordered me to “(let’s) get out here!” The fire was now starting to close in on the eastern side to0 and all we needed was for the road to Stanford to be cut off.

Stanford was packed with hundreds of people who had been rudely awakened whilst on holiday in all the developments along the lagoon’s edge. The Spar opened its doors and started serving free coffee! We then headed to Mosaic Farm (on the opposite side of the lagoon) to watch as the fire as it descended on the Club. You can imagine scores of tired holiday makers watching a scene out of Armageddon.

At 4.30 am I notified our Vice Commodore and another committee member who live in Hermanus of what was going on.

Our first stroke of luck occurred due to the fact that that when the fire struck the club, daylight had already broken, this meant that the fire choppers had just been dispatched and sent to the head of the fire. In the early light of day we could see them collecting and bombing tons of water onto the properties west of the club! For a while the entire area disappeared in a massive cloud of smoke … I thought this was the beginning of the end. I was in constant contact with the men left at the club and it did not sound good. We then headed to Stanford to get a bite to eat and a coffee, I tried to head back to the club only to be aggressively refused by the police manning the road block. By 8am I decided to head back to Cape Town (via Caledon) as I felt I could at least start to coordinate a plan and set up decent communications… at 10h25 my first email requesting urgent fire fighting assistance went out to all our members… in essence this was the message:


Please call me on 082 4100 290 if you can offer assistance.”

What an incredible response we had, shortly after 11am we had a fighting force in place and they were doing an incredible job reinforcing the few who had been at the club throughout. One of our members managed to arrange to borrow some fire engines from the volunteer fire station at Newlands (which  only opened at 1pm). By 2pm we were ready to depart (having had a quick lesson in fire-fighting) and off we set to Hermanus. Fully laden with water and all the tools, I followed the bright orange and yellow machine in a bakkie laden with pumps and extra fire hoses. We limped into the club at 4pm and everything seemed strangely under control. Within minutes of arriving I realised what a serious situation we were in, we had already lost our gate House, all our fencing, the entire water supply and many boats and caravans! More worrying though was a smouldering patch in the reeds directly west of the clubhouse near the water’s edge upwind of us on our neighbours property. The decision was made to head across with the fire truck and attempt to extinguish the potential source of disaster. By now the wind was gusting 30 knots and it was very very hot. And then the flames erupted. A secondary fire, strong wind, our fire truck trapped next door and a very weary team of men and women. Our only goal now was to wet and protect the boundary next to our clubhouse and managers cottage, at the same time two of our committee members were on the phone begging for fire engines and helicopter assistance only to be told, you have you own trucks now so you’re on your own. 20 minuted later we made the call to pull all men out of the front line as the flames were now too big and the fire was literally licking the walls of our managers house. .. it was all over, a dejected and resigned crowd of black-faced sailors headed onto the roof of the clubhouse to watch helplessly as the fire took on a life of its own.

Our prayers had been answered, out of the smoke appeared a yellow Huey chopper with the delightful red fire bucket hanging below. The sense of relief was tangible… who and how ? ..none of us are really too clear on the answer but all that mattered was that they were here at last! The first 5 tons of water was dropped perfectly onto the fire that was set to destroy our second house of the day! And then another familiar thudding sound and a second chopper appeared. To watch these two machines delicately navigate their buckets through the tall trees and accurately douse the raging fire was truly awesome. Then started the explosions as caravans and their gas bottles exploded…. This could have been Vietnam, the true experience cannot be captured on pictures or video. It was humbling to say the least. Simultaneously two proper fire engines arrived on loan from Caledon and Bredasdorp and they assured us they would not leave until all was under control. If we could have we would have closed and locked the gate! The SAPS also arrived and with bolt cutters started removing every gas bottle to safe areas to prevent further explosions.

A few hours later by nightfall, all the heroes of the day went away to sleep wherever they could get shelter and 4 of us remained awake at the club to see the night through. At least we had a fire engine of our own although the driver was fast asleep! Two others slept in the clubhouse so we could at least keep an eye on them in case another fire broke out. Our galley manager brought some food through so we could keep the two municipal fire engines and their crew enticed to stay a little longer. Eventually by 9pm they left. We promised all the SAPS and fire-fighters some Pizzas and after every take away pizza in Hermanus had been bought they were delivered by our Vice Commodore 2 hours late. Needless to say the pizzas, coke and cartons of cigarettes purchased stood on the tables with no one to consume them. We were on our own.

By 1am we noticed some concerning flare-ups all around us and two of us decided to go in search of some fire engines. 7 kilometres away we saw red lights and we came across two fire-engines filling up at a farm dam. These municipal fire-fighters looked like they were packing up for the night… with the promise of pizzas, coke and some cigarettes we managed to lure the big yellow machine with full tanks and a full crew back to the Yacht Club. We positioned them to extinguish some area of concern on our eastern boundary where we had lost a cabin, a caravan and several boats. Once in position we setup watch to ensure they never left and we plied them with delicious Pizza and coke. At 3 am the machine was dry and we let them escape. The worst was over!

At 7 .45 am on Sunday morning we held an emergency committee meeting and at 8 am our manager appeared and joined us, completely overwhelmed by the scene of destruction that met her eyes. Her home had been saved! An action plan was put into place and the recovery plan was set in motion. Even our electrician (on holiday) popped in at 6am and made safe all the bare wires on our western terraces. By late on the 30th we seemed to be under control and there was a jovial mood filtering back into the club. Slowly people started returning to check the damage and take responsibility for their property.

Sadly the stress of continual flare-ups persisted for many more days and nights and finally the 3rd of January was our last night of official watch. Every hour members patrolled in teams of two and by dawn on the 4th it was decided that we were essentially safe from the immediate threat if fire.

Last night (9th January) I visited the club and spent the night, whilst having dinner there was a flare-up on our eastern boundary on our neighbour’s property, within minutes we had the same yellow fire engine helping out. Just before they arrived it started raining and when I left Hermanus this morning there was a light but steady down pour. I think it is safe to say the fire is now under control.

This weekend we are having a members’ work weekend and we have had an overwhelming response. By next week the club will be back on its feet and ready to go sailing again!.

Once again thanks to all who helped us rescue our wonderful club and I am sorry for all those who lost so much personal property in the devastating fire.

We are ready to host the Southern Charter Grand Slam (event 3) on the 16/17th February. Please support us by making sure you enter and come and sail at what is one on the best weekend sailing venues in South Africa! We will also be hosting the Grand Slam Finals / Western Cape Champs to be held over the Easter weekend. Joining us at these events is the best support you can give your friends at Hermanus Yacht Club.

This was my personal account of the fire, I apologise if I have left out any relevant detail. To all who gave up very precious family time over the New Year period, you know who you are and on behalf of all members and the committee of HYC I thank you!

Yours sincerely

Andrew Rissik

Please keep a look out on www.hyc.co.za we will post pictures of the fire within a day or two under the latest news button and to enter the Grand Slam Series, please go to http://sasgrandslam.co.za/?page_id=2




“A Dream Job: Being a Sailing Coach”

Sponsors“A Dream Job: Being a Sailing Coach”

By Carolyn Steele

When Ryan Pentolfe; Sailing Coach and Manager at Zeekoevlei Sailing Centre was asked ‘What do you like about working for the Zeekoevlei Sailing Centre?’ His response was “It’s a dream job!”  He went on further to say that combining sailing and now becoming a coach is doing something that he loves.  He’s not sitting in an office; his office is the water, the boats are the equipment, fun is the children, and time flies at this water based office when the children arrive to learn how to sail and have fun.  Ryan and his partner sailing coach; Morne Harding are responsible for the coaching at the Zeekoevlei Sailing Centre; and whilst waiting for the children they look after the centre and ensure all maintenance on the boats is carried out to keep them to the required safety standards and care needed.

Ryan and Morne are passionate about the coaching, sailing and children.  They do not just build a professional coaching and mentor relationship; they form friendships as they get to know all the children and their unique personalities.

Both Ryan and Morne are former students of the Sailing Centre and when Ryan started; his friends at the centre were like a family.  Being the youngest at the time the group he joined in with; all became firm friends and they still stick together and help each other out.  They have grown up and built solid friendships that have lasted.  To both of them they feel sailing and coaching is more ‘like a family vibe, rather than a professional vibe’ in the sense it feels like a lot of fun.

A typical day is when the children will arrive early to just hang out before going sailing; as they see the centre as a place they want to be at.  The peaceful, calm waters of Zeekoevlei with birds tweeting are enough to relax anyone wanting to get out of the busy streets and noise of the local communities.  Baring in mind some of these children are making a choice to not be part of street gangs, drugs, crime and violence; and are preferring the choice having an alternative lifestyle of sailing and everything  that sailing offers.  Both Ryan and Morne have chosen to not live a lifestyle that is often the choices of some of their old friends who they have had to leave behind for a happier and healthier alternative.

To them the sport of sailing has been about the relationships they have built to be able to grow up together, sail, have fun and go to braais together at times.  Normal healthy fun!

Pentolfe’s passion is evident as he feels free and enjoys going to sailing events and competing himself, and he gets to teach kids everything that he learns. “I like the job, because I get to sail that’s why I am still here.  Everything I learn I can teach to sailors.  Yet, I have to ensure that I don’t let my sailors be better than me.  I just can’t let that happen.  They won’t respect me.” It is clear Ryan is very driven to ensure he is the best he can be, and to be a role model to others. ‘I don’t want to give them a reason to not respect me!” he says laughing.  “Yet; really though we do all tease each other if they do beat me, then that’s okay and we laugh like friends do in this sport.  On the water it’s competitive and it’s serious.  After racing we may even protect each other, and then the fun side of sailing happens where we are friends off the water.  There is lots of teasing about who won that race!”

The children are loved by the coaches as they are all keen to help out in anyway with boats that are often transported to regattas, and all hands are needed to help the coaches get boats on top of trailers and move boats around at the sailing centre.  “It always makes life easier to have that extra pair of hands.” Ryan shares that the children are always keen to just come and hang out especially in the school holidays as it is somewhere to go; to get off the streets.  Ryan was part of a group of ten other kids initially, and he shares there are only four of the initial group who are sailing. Others left to go boatbuilding, others are back living the life of drugs and gangsters again.  He feels sad when he sees them as they are walking around high on drugs with no purpose, begging for one and two rand coins to buy cigarettes and drugs.   “For me sailing is a better choice than hanging out on a street corner.”

Taking the children to regattas is fun, as everyone looks out for each other.  “Even the older kids, look out for the youngsters; it’s a family.  We have fun, the kids get to sail and they all go to bed when I say so! “Ryan jokes.EC CHAMPS TEAM SEP2012

Being part of any group usually means there are some traditions that develop in the spirit of fun.  Ryan and Morne enjoy sometimes just coming to sail with their friends and sailing, finding a spot on the water and ‘a sap in die Vlei’, and then go swimming off the jetty.  ‘For some ‘new’ friends they have to swim to the buoy in life jackets!’ Both of them are laughing. They all bring five rand to buy Gatsby’s. What is a Gatsby?  “It’s a coloured thing!” says Morne.  “It’s a massive sandwich the locals eat with polony, Vienna’s, slap chips, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, sauces, anything.  You get fish Gatsby’s, masala steak curry, the full house!” Ryan is laughing and says “Gatsby’s they are like evil!  Chips are falling out, not a knife and fork meal.  It’s wet, you can’t close them!” He shares a tidbit about “…one Gatsby in Parkwood was so long that it had to sit across the brother’s in the back seat of the car!”

What is evident is these are street smart young adults who are enjoying their work and the community spirit that it has given them in another form.  They are passionate about sailing, the competitiveness, the growth and opportunities that the sailing centre has given them.

Ryan’s thoughts about the sailing centre are that “The buzz at the sailing centre is cool.  There are hundreds of good memories, and there are lots more to come.”


Royal Cape Yacht Club Sailing Academy Programme: ZVSC partner with RCYC to develop keel boat sailing

Zeekoevlei Sailing Centre Announces 2012 First Round of Keelboat Sailing Development Team

Zeekoevlei, Cape Town.  (12 October, 2012) – Ten sailors have been named for the first round of the 2012 Royal Cape Yacht Club Sailing Academy Programme.  A development youth team; supported by Zeekoevlei Sailing Centre.

Royal Cape Yacht Club’s Dale Kushner approached David Rae from Zeekoevlei Sailing Centre, with an invitation to help young sailors acquire the skills necessary to learn to sail on keelboats and the open sea.  This was an opportunity not to be missed, and Kushner and Rae met to set up the partnership.  RCYC have provided the platform for sailors to experience the skills required to specialise further , and be exposed to sailing on a larger scale; in terms of the size of the boats, and open water sailing.

The Jewish Maritime League has provided three boats for the use of youth sailing development around the Western Cape.  The RCYC Sailing Academy Programme is currently using one of these boats.  Ryan Pentolfe and Mornay Harding; the ZVSC coaches attended the first session with the sailors at Royal Cape Yacht Club, and took part in sailing two L26’s; “Escape” and “JML 1 ”.  These two boats were recently sailed in the 2012 Lipton Challenge Cup in False Bay, Simonstown.  Pentolfe said ‘the sailors were excited and grateful to be using these boats’.

The idea behind the RCYC Sailing Academy Programme is to introduce dinghy graduates to sailing keelboats, and get them exposed to racing and the keelboat circuit.  It’s a natural progression in the sport of sailing.  Sailing is on a much larger scale, and is different in a number of skills to be learnt.   Pentolfe explains “When kids are hiking out on dinghies, they are used to placing their feet under toe straps to hang out the side of the boat to keep it level when heeling.  When they are on a keelboat, they are now told to sit on the side of the rails and ‘hang out’ by leaning forward when the boat starts heeling and hold onto the guard rails.  It’s the opposite, and this is a new experience.”

The first group of ten sailors from the centre attended the initial training session on Saturday 6 December 2012.  This group were handpicked to ensure that sailors; who were ready for the next jump from dinghy to keelboat sailing, were given the opportunity based on their competent sailing abilities.  Two coaches from the Royal Cape Yacht Club Sailing Academy Programme; Matthew and Paul took the young sailors out for some match racing in Table Bay.  The sailors were split up into two groups and this gave the sailors a chance to learn from each other and create a team spirit; a much needed skill learning to sail and race keelboats.

The sailors enjoyed the opportunity and were excited to be part of the Royal Cape Yacht Club’s Opening Cruise and Opening Ceremony of the RCYC sailing season.  A priest was present to give the sailors and fleet a blessing for safe sailing.  As part of the opening cruise held at the Cape Town Waterfront, the fleet and Commodore was honoured with a 10-gun salute past Bertie Reed’s Statue; a well-known former Springbok sailor.

The programme continues for the next three weeks; thereafter a new group will be selected to commence the training with the Royal Cape Yacht Club Sailing Academy Programme.

For further information about this programme, please contact David Rae at Zeekoevlei Sailing Centre on 072 456 3191 or email zeekoevleisailingcentre@yahoo.co.za.

Eastern Cape Champs, Mossel Bay 29 Sep – 1 Oct 2012

Today our dinghy sailors left to compete in an away regatta; the Eastern Cape Champs hosted by Mossel Bay Yacht Club (MBYC).  This is a three day event, and we have entered teams to sail on three 420’s and one RS Tera.  Our coaches; Ryan and Morne, and school teacher Keith are attending with our competitive sailors.  We are very grateful to Lotto, Old Mutual, Metropolitan Health and all our supporters who have made it possible to attend this event on the provincial dinghy sailing calendar.  We launched the first ‘road trip’ of our brand new custom built trailer.  The trailer has been designed and built over the winter season in preparation for the upcoming summer sailing season.  In the past; we had to ferry boats backwards and forwards on numerous trips with cars and trailers borrowed at times to attend regattas.  Now we can transport our sailing equipment and boats in one trip!  We are very proud of our new ‘professional’ trailer, and look like we mean business!  Good luck sailors!

To view photo’s of our sailors and new trailer; please visit our Facebook page.



15 & 16 SEPTEMBER 2012


Well done to our 420 sailors from ZVSC…….1st…Duane Peterson (ZVSC)…2nd…Asenathi Jim (RaceAhead)…3rd…David Jacobs (ZVSC). David ties with Asenathi on 16 points overall. Awesome guys!  Photo’s on our Facebook page….

Next event :

Theewater Sailing Club (TSC): Grand Slam 2 (1 and 2 Dec 2012)

For more information refer to the website.