Asenathi Jim and Ashwin Daniels are competing in the 420 class at the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championships in Istanbul in July.
David and Roger Hudson have been part of the sailing scene for almost all their lives. Both very successful sailors in their own right, they created 'Race Ahead', a project aimed at giving South Africa's young sailing talent a structured route into the international sailing scene.
Since 2008 the Hudsons assisted young South Africans to compete in the highly competitive Laser SB3 circuit in the UK and Ireland. Their efforts were rewarded with a top 10 overall finish at Cowes Week in a huge fleet, followed up by a class win at Cork Week and most impressively, a second place overall at the inaugural Laser SB3 World Championship in Dublin.
Buoyed by this success, in 2009 they stepped the Race Ahead programme up another gear, returning to Europe with a two boat campaign and a punishing schedule which saw two squads of South Africa's most promising young sailors training and competing in a series of domestic and continental events.
A highly successful 2009 season was rounded out when the two Race Ahead boats took the silver and bronze positions at the worlds in Portugal. This remarkable achievement has gone along way to help raise the profile of South African sailing on the world stage.
Roger explains how it all began:
"We had been talking for a long time about the need for some sort of intermediate infrastructure in South African sailing that could help identify and nurture our talented youngsters; kids that had the ability, but were maybe lacking the guidance and resources. So we conceptualised Race Ahead as a South African sailing project, but also a sort of human development initiative."
Utilising their strong links with the South African sailing authorities and sailing clubs, the Hudsons were quickly able to identify which individual sailors to invite to join the programme.
David comments, "The ultimate prize for the sailors was the opportunity to come and race with us in Europe. We invited some heavyweight South African sailors (Americas Cup campaigners, or pas Olympians) to come and work with the kids at our training camps "
David believes that the most rewarding element to the Race Ahead project is to see how the young sailors have integrated on and off the water.
"What is nice to see is to observe is the way some of the youngsters from underprivileged backgrounds are mixing in here with the kids who are more privileged"
The Race Ahead programme is back in Europe in 2010 with another two boat keelboat campaign.
Roger explains, "This winter Race Ahead put together it's first dinghy project. We invested in a couple of 420s and after some intense training sessions, two of our sailors, Asenathi Jim and Ashwin Daniels, managed to win the South African trials for the Youth Worlds in Turkey."
(nicknamed Squirrel) and Ashwyn Daniels
nicknamed Fox) are competing in the 420 class at the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championships in Istanbul in July. They are coached by Ian Ainslie
(RSA), a highly successful match racer who competed in the 32nd Americas Cup and has enjoyed success racing in the Finn class.
The pair will be up against some of the most competitive youth teams racing in Istanbul but their participation is testament to the hard work behind the Race Ahead programme and an inspiration for other developing sailing nations to follow..
For more details on the 2010 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship visit: www.isafyouthworlds.com