South Africa’s boat-building community received a major boost when it was confirmed that Roy Heiner, former skipper of Assa Abloy, would be part of a South African bid to compete in the next Volvo Ocean Race, slated for 2005-2006.
A strong global team has been put together to manage this bid, consisting of some of the biggest names in yachting in Cape Town today. Significantly it includes David Gant, chairman of Boat Partners South Africa, Lars Ahren, a veteran of four previous Whitbread/Volvo Ocean Race syndicates, Manly Hopkinson, a former round the world skipper and marine engineer, and Ian Douglas, chief executive of the Cape Town International Convention Centre Company. Bruce Parker-Forsyth, the Chairman of the Cape Town stopover will also join the board to handle the sales, promotion and marketing activities required by the initiative.
The announcement of the intention to enter a syndicate in the next race was made at a two-day boat-building symposium hosted as part of this year's stopover in Cape Town. Mr Gant said that the initiative would provide a wonderful opportunity to showcase South Africa and its industries to the world at large and raise the general level of awareness of the South African Boat Building industry and its huge international potential. The success of the Cape Town stopover has raised the level of public interest in ocean racing in South Africa and the recent formation of the SA Boat Building Council and the declared intention of Government to help grow and expand South Africa's already successful boat building industry was an added impetus that led to the decision to have a South African entry in 2005-2006.
'A good start has been made when the Minister of Trade and Industry, Alec Irwin, indicated his strong support and promised government backing for a South African entry' commented Mr Gant, adding: 'now we have got further support with Roy Heiner's acceptance of our invitation to be associated with the South African entry. Roy is a South African by birth and is an internationally renowned sailor, making him an ideal candidate to be part of the syndicate. He understands the concept of nation building and is keen to help to get as many South African sailors on board as possible.
Roy Heiner responded: 'There is a challenge ahead of us to get a campaign going, carried by all South Africans and has the potential to carry the future. That challenge is quite big right now. For me, South Africa is a very special country - I lived here fore 25 years of my life. I wanted to be in a team that is really driven to make something happen in a beautiful country - it hits me deep in the heart. It is a decision that we have talked about for sometime, it is not a decision of yesterday, but it is something that has grown and is very special.'
For more information on the South African Syndicate, please contact: Bruce Parker-Forsyth on +27 21 439 9020 or David Gant on +27 82 789 3467