The America's Cup is the stage for the creating legends, and no one illustrates that better than the South African America's Cup challenger, Team Shosholoza. Captain Salvatore SARNO's squad was awarded the SA Sports Team of the Year title at the South African Sports Awards ceremony in Johannesburg. The sailing team was given the nod over the usual gods of South African sport - the cricket and rugby teams who usually dominate such awards.
'Our team has come a very long way in such a short space of time. We are competing at the pinnacle of world yachting in our bid for the America's Cup in 2007 but representing our country is our main mission,'
said crew member Solomon DIPEERE when accepting the award on behalf of his team.
The jubilant DIPEERE was accompanied by fellow sailor Golden MGEDEZA and team managing director Captain Salvatore SARNO.
Organised by SABC Sport in association with SASCOC (The SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee) and the Department of Sport and Recreation, the awards presenter described Team Shosholoza as a 'wonderful ambassador for our country.'
It was a humbling moment for Captain SARNO, the inspirational driving force behind the team, who has realised his dream of bringing a 'little bit of the South Africa to the America's Cup.' Indeed, during the 2005 roadshow season of Louis Vuitton Acts across Europe, Shosholoza was a consistent crowd favourite. On the water, the team earned its first match racing wins and shocked the America's Cup world with an incredible fifth place finish in the final fleet racing event.
"I believe our team is breaking new ground for South African sailing and sport in general," said Captain SARNO. "Just getting a South African team to the America's Cup was like winning gold at the Olympics for me, but now I know we are succeeding in showing the world this country's incredible sporting abilities, human resources, skills, technology and our new democracy in a way that no other team has been able to."
The team is currently winding down its operation in Valencia and looking forward to a well deserved break over the Christmas holidays. Shosholoza will return to Spain in February to resume training and testing ahead of the 2006 Louis Vuitton Acts.