Kaptein span die seile: Grassy Park man hopes to inspire kids after winning SA sailing championship

A Grassy Park man, who sailed his way to success after recently winning the national championship title in the SA420 sailing class, is on a mission to inspire Cape Flats kids to find their sea legs.

Amir Yaghya, 23, clinched the national championships that were held at Club Mykonos in Langebaan last month.

The avid sailor and his crew member Renton Geduld, 18, came up against the best of the best in the country, but thanks to an impressive tactical approach, they brought home the gold.

“With wind speeds up to 30 knots on race day, it was really tough to survive – never mind win – in those conditions. But it’s been an incredible experience to bring home the title with Renton and make history for the Zeekoevlei Sailing Club in the process by being the first member to win in this category,” Amir said.

He was introduced to sailing in 2015 when learners from Grassy Park High School were selected to join a sailing programme at Zeekoevlei.

It was the best decision he ever made, says Amir, and has opened many doors – including representing his club at sailing competitions around the country, as well as an opportunity to teach sailing in the USA.

He is currently the lead sailing instructor at sailing charity, the Little Optimist Academy, based at Battery Park in the V&A Waterfront.

“I help run sailing programmes that are similar to one where it all started for me,” Amir told the Daily Voice.

“I love the fact that I’m inspiring the next generation and showing them how the sport of sailing can provide a world of adventure and opportunity”.

Amir is fully accredited with SA Sailing, the Royal Yachting Association as well as the African Maritime Safety Authority.

“The charity is a therapy for kids who wouldn’t be able to afford to be exposed to things like sailing,” he explained.

Greg Bertish, the founder of the Little Optimist Trust and Academy, added: “Communities like Amir’s have had little to no access to sailing in the past. Amir is helping to change that narrative, to make sailing more accessible and inclusive.”

Amir’s next goal is to win the Great Optimist Race, a fixture of the annual boatica exhibition being held at the V&A Waterfront on October 27 to 29.

Ultimately, he aims to fly the South African flag on his bootjie at the Olympics.

“I plan on reaching the stars, pushing the limits to sail and with the right support I can make my dream a reality,” he concluded.