Students Set Sail on World’s Largest Brigantine

The Royal Cape Yacht Club Sailing Academy, dedicated to teaching life skills through sailing, is sending a group of 11 students on a five-day voyage, from June 24-30, aboard Nave Italia, the world’s largest active brigantine sailing ship.

RCYC Academy Manager Jennifer Burger will be accompanying the students, ages 16 to 26, who hail from Khayelitsha, Masiphumelele, Cape Flats, and Mitchells Plain. Noma Mlaba, who is the youngest student at 16, is doing grade 11 at Lawhill Maritime Centre in Simon’s Town and is “beyond excited to be joining this amazing group of people on this Italian sailing adventure over the holidays! I am originally from Durban, Kwa-Zulu Natal and can’t wait to explore the stunning coastline, indulge in delicious food and make unforgettable memories with all my fellow students. As we set sail through the crystal-clear waters of the Mediterranean, I hope we’ll share stories, laughter, and many more.”

For Nesia Khonza, Sesona Ntsaluba, Yassmeen Mbobo, Wanda Rala Rala, Ali Bester, Akhona Matafeni, Yonela Temela, Sikelela Mente, Salman Bester, Nomthamsanqa (Noma) Mlaba and Lukhanyo Gqibinyanga there will be several firsts – a first flight, the first time overseas and possibly the first exposure to Italian culture. Noma Mlaba and Lukhanyo are Lawhill Maritime Centre students whose tuition is sponsored by Royal Cape Yacht Club, partnered with SATS General Botha Old Boys’ Association Bursary Fund.

Organized by “Tender to Nave Italia Foundation” and funded through the generous support of Pirelli Tyre South Africa, the journey will commence from Gaeta, a beautiful coastal city in central Italy, south of Rome. Gaeta is known as the city of 100 churches and the students are keeping fingers crossed that they will be able to spend some time to explore the surrounds. The 11 students will disembark at Civitavecchia, Italy’s largest cruise port terminal. The funds were raised as a result of the 2024 RCYC ‘Italian Ambassador’s Perennial Trophy’ race, supported by the Italian Embassy, Ferrari and the very generous support of “The Tender to Nave Italia Foundation,” sponsoring all expenses in Italy, accommodation, meals, transport and activities during the students’ stay.

Pirelli Tyre South Africa pledged their support in making this dream a reality. CEO of Pirelli Tyre South Africa, Mr Johan Theron, supports the Academy initiative which serves as a beacon of opportunity, instilling confidence, resilience and a sense of belonging, empowering youngsters to chart their own course through life.

The students will tackle various maritime and social challenges, such as climbing the 61-meter mast, fostering resilience and teamwork. This experience will enrich their understanding of seamanship and sailing skills, all under the mentorship from experienced Navy instructors.

The RCYC Sailing Academy’s partnership with Fondazione Nave Italia underscores its commitment to offering exceptional educational opportunities to its students. Academy Manager Jennifer Burger concludes: “Travel expands our students’ minds and allows them to see that there is a world of possibilities. They just have to be willing to take all opportunities that come their way and it’s the Academy’s pleasure to open those doors for them.”