A Grassy Park sailor and his crew walked away as winners of the fourth Great Optimist Race, a charity race that brings people together from all walks of life.
The race, which took place at the V&A Waterfront on Saturday 28 October, raised R250 000 for various charities in Cape Town.
The Italtile boat crewed by development sailors Amir Yaghya from Grassy Park together with Shane Joseph and Josh September won the Great Optimist trophy for their skillful navigation of the choppy waters and high winds.
Founder of the Little Optimist Trust and Great Optimist Race, Greg Bertish, said the race “shows little people how to overcome huge obstacles in life”.
“This year, our aim was inclusivity and we tried to push to get as many people access to sailing to drive the narrative of building inclusiveness.
“We’ve had people from differently abled to development teams, medical survivors, CEOs and celebrities all sailing for charity in the same race.”
Bertish added that 50 children from marginalised backgrounds were invited to the waterfront during the boat show to visit the Two Oceans Aquarium, attend a sailing lesson and enjoy lunch.
“We brought marginalised kids to the waterfront during the boat show to visit the Two Oceans Aquarium and to have a sit-down lunch.”
Yaghya, who works for The Little Optimist Sailing Academy, spends his days sharing the joy of sailing with children who grow up in difficult circumstances.
His teammate Joseph thanked the Little Optimist Trust Academy for upskilling him on instructor and super yacht courses which made a massive impact on his life.
“We are now able to inspire kids and serve as role models for others from heavy and difficult backgrounds where drugs and gangsterism are involved. It was just the best feeling of winning the race.”
In second place was the Ullman Sails team while third place went to the Southern Wind team.
Also putting on a noteworthy performance was the Yoyo team, which was made up of differently abled sailors Caleb Swanepoel who lost his leg in a shark attack, Darren Thomas who was shot at point-blank range in a robbery leaving him wheelchair bound and Antoinelle Hartze who lost her leg in a train accident.
The trio finished in fifth place overall but led the way in courage and crowd-pleasing.
The charities that will benefit from funds raised include A New Breath, Project Flamingo, CANSA and Jumping Kids, among others.