Shosholoza: unfinished business

10 September 2007

Team Shosholoza, after a strong showing in its first America’s Cup, has lodged South Africa’s second entry in sailing’s most prestigious event.

Shosholoza made a huge impact at the latest edition of the America’s Cup, which ended earlier this year in Valencia, Spain. While Swiss outfit Team Alinghi successfully defended their crown, the South African team captured the hearts of spectators and the respect of their opposition.

Shosholoza founder and managing director Salvatore Sarno recently confirmed that he had personally lodged an entry, along with the requisite performance bond and certificationm, with the Swiss Societe Nautique Geneve, Alinghi’s yacht club.

Royal Cape Yacht Club
Sarno confirmed that the Royal Cape Yacht Club would again be the South African challenge club.

An accomplished yachtsman himself, Sarno went ahead with the bid despite not having signed a sponsor yet. He was in the same position back in 2004 when he entered Team Shosholoza, the first ever African entrant for the America’s Cup.

After the success of Shosholoza in Valencia, one would imagine Sarno won’t be short of potential sponsors. It is, however, a big money sport and finding sponsors willing to put up the huge sums of money to compete successfully will be one of the keys to the competitiveness of South Africa’s challenge.

‘A proudly South African sponsor’
“I am looking for a proudly South African sponsor and I am positive that we will find one to support the African dream to bring the Cup home,” Sarno said.

He said yachting had something to offer outside of the sport, too. “We want to present ourselves as a testimony for South Africa’s capacity to host the 2010 Soccer World Cup,” he explained.

“We showed a different side of South Africa at the last Cup, and everyone liked what they saw. We want to remain the country’s best ambassadors on one of the world’s most influential platforms. We will be making sure that everyone wants to come to South Africa for the soccer.”

Praised
Team Shosholoza’s performance in its first America’s Cup competition was widely praised after the team finished seventh overall after three years of competition.

“We showed what novices can achieve. We earned the respect of our competitors by punching way above our weight, and our indomitable spirit captivated hearts and inspired millions around the world,” Sarno said.

“Now we want to do another campaign. It would be silly not to. We have acquired a lot of knowledge; our crew has achieved a level close to the best in the world. We are hungry to get better results.”

Early entry
Explaining his decision to get South Africa’s entry in early, Sarno said he expected the next America’s Cup to draw more than the 11 challengers that took part in the last edition of the event.

“I also want to make sure that we maintain our present base in Valencia’s Port America’s Cup, as previously this was allocated according to the date of presentation,” he said.

Sarno, the chairman of the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), first came to South Africa in 1986. Since that time he has been a passionate supporter of local and international yacht racing, and has also involved himself with the development of sailing in South Africa.

One of the biggest successes the development programme has enjoyed has been through its sponsorship of the Izivunguvungu MSC Foundation for Youth, which was started by South African Olympic sailor Ian Ainslie in 1997. The school, which is based in Simonstown near Cape Town, focuses on teaching disadvantaged youths and street children life skills through sailing training.

‘An honour’
Craig Middleton, the Commodore of the Royal Cape Yacht Club, said it was an honour to again be the Challenge Club for South Africa’s entry.

“We are extremely proud to once again to be South Africa’s representatives at the next event,” he said.

The Royal Cape Yacht Club has a rich sailing history. One of the oldest and best known yacht clubs in South Africa, it has competed in many famous races, including the Whitbread Around the World Yacht Race, the BOC Round the World Race, and the One Ton, Half-ton, and Three-quarter Ton World Championships.

The club is also the trustee of the Lipton Challenge Cup, which was given to the Table Yacht Club, the forerunner of the Royal Cape Yacht Club, by the wealthy tea baron Sir Thomas Lipton in 1909.

Lipton contested the America’s Cup on five occasions, always on yachts named Shamrock.

SouthAfrica.info reporter

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