Clipper Race partners BCF as new SA race partner

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Inkosi Thandisizwe Mpungose (extreme left) in a chat with Sir Knox-Johnston (right) and Clipper Race CEO, William Ward (middle). Photo by Tom Heaney, nwpresspics
Inkosi Thandisizwe Mpungose (extreme left) in a chat with Sir Knox-Johnston (right) and Clipper Race CEO, William Ward (middle). Photo by Tom Heaney, nwpresspics
  • partnership to economically empower rural communities

The Bekezela Community Foundation (BCF) has become the newest host port and team partner to Clipper Round, for its 2023-24 and 2025-26 editions, the world yacht race, has revealed.

This new partnership means that the port of uMhlathuze on South Africa’s East Coast will feature on the next two editions of the sailing event’s global race route.

In addition, through its team entries, the foundation will be offering local people from rural communities the opportunity to apply to become an ambassador representing BCF and train to become crew on the sailing event’s race around the world.

The Clipper Race is the only event of its kind that trains people to become ocean racers. The 40,000 nautical miles (nm) sailing event takes eleven months to circumnavigate the globe, making six ocean crossings and stopping in over ten countries.

BCF is a non-profit organisation founded by Inkosi Thandisizwe Siyabonga Mpungose to empower underprivileged and vulnerable communities in South Africa.

Inkosi Thandisizwe Siyabonga Mpungose, speaking at a signing ceremony, said the partnership would be used to create a platform of opportunity to make sailing part of the fabric of BCFs community as well as changing the narrative through diversity and inclusion initiatives.

The partnership was revealed at a launch event in Derry~Londonderry, Northern Ireland, where the current edition of the race is in port. The signing ceremony was held with Inkosi Thandisizwe Mpungose from BCF and from the Clipper Race, its CEO William Ward and Chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston.

Inkosi Thandisizwe Mpungose said: “The Clipper Race, with its essence of ordinary people doing extraordinary things, seemed like the perfect collaboration to bring the world to Africa, and to uMhlathuze specifically.

“Through our sponsorship of the Clipper Race we hope to shine a spotlight on the immense raw natural beauty, modern sophistication, cultural diversity and pulsating energy which is the province of KwaZulu Natal as well as help unlock economic opportunities for rural and impoverished communities,” he said.

The city of uMhlathuze, will first welcome Clipper Race Crew in the autumn of 2023 when the Clipper 2023-24 Race fleet sails to this destination. Clipper Race Crew will be treated to its special South African hospitality during the stopover. The Clipper Race will then return to uMhlathuze in its 2025-26 edition.

Record-breaking sailor, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, said: “By partnering with the Bekezela Community Foundation together we hope to make a lasting legacy in uMhlathuze and its surrounding area.

“Our global race route will enable BCF to showcase its foundation and the region it represents to an international audience. And as a Host Port on our race route, new visitors will discover what this beautiful coastal region has to offer,” he added.

Also, he observed that “From our many years of delivering successful ambassador programmes, we have seen first-hand how empowering such schemes are for the individuals who become part of our Race Crew.

“Sailing is so much more than just a sport or pastime as it gives you experience that is as useful in the workplace as it is on board a yacht. The sport develops self-confidence and self-esteem, and we hope that the successful BCF Ambassador Crew will inspire others in their community.”

The new host port location means that the second stage of the sailing circumnavigation will round the famous Cape Agulhas, one of the world’s Five Great Capes.

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