RCYC sailing development programme was a springboard to success. SABBEX spoke to co-owner Momelezi Funani, former RCYC Sailing Academy coordinator.
SABBEX: What is the name of your new company and how did it all come about?
MOMELEZI: Offshore Yacht Services. It is my own initiative, although there are two of us running the company. We are a boat management service company that provides boat management which includes maintenance and repairs. We manage the boats, including boat deliveries, and we also do maintenance. We want to get into that market.
SABBEX: What is the link with RCYC?
MOMELEZI: I started at the Academy as an intern from CPUT, in 2017. I was one of the first intake at the Academy. I was meant to complete my six month internship to complete my diploma. It was so congruent with my line of profession, so I asked them if they could give me an opportunity. I was coming from a sports background. That’s how I started assisting there, doing their maintenance, including inspections, making sure the boats were ready for training at the weekend.
SABBEX: And from there? What happened next?
MOMELEZI: I worked hard and was given a permanent position as the Academy Coordinator. I started working at the Academy and was also drawn into the Sailing Office, assisting with races, regattas. I did a couple of regattas at Mykonos, working with race officials. I really enjoyed it and got to learn about boats, the make of the boats, the size and design.
SABBEX: What gave you the idea to start your business?
MOMELEZI: The idea started to be born while I was working at the weekends. I started to see boats in need of attention. Sometimes you’ll find out maybe the boom is swinging or the boat line at the marina has come loose – you start to see those incidents.
I thought, you know what, there is an opportunity here, to manage and track the boats, to provide long services to the boat owners so that they can have their time free. If you look at the market, many people who own boats aren’t living in SA — they need someone to look after their asset. I thought I am going to jump with this thing.
SABBEX: Have you received support and encouragement?
MOMELEZI: I’ve received support from all angles. The RCYC are very pro empowerment and developing new role players. David Abromowitz has also been very supportive. The list is endless – too many people to name. Government is looking for someone like myself to support. The time that I’ve been in the industry has allowed me to learn the industry and see what it needs. The role players in the industry are advocating bringing new fresh blood in the industry. The demand for maintenance services is very high. Yes there is competition but also opportunity for someone to establish something.
SABBEX: How do you plan to grow the business?
MOMELEZI: The market is really untapped. I qualify for some business support from the National Youth Development Agency, and I have submitted my application there, so that I can buy equipment. That kind of support is available and I must keep searching.
My plan is to be (based) at Royal Cape. They have better facilities which would allow for the day-to-day workings on what we are trying to do. I am also hoping to extend my services to other yacht clubs.
The aim is to expand in all areas and explore other opportunities. It boils down to what the industry needs at any specific time.