Top yards throw weight behind Bertish initiative

Two of South Africa’s top yards have thrown their weight behind a new ‘sail therapy’ initiative for disadvantaged South African children at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront.

Cape Town yards Two Oceans Marine and Southern Wind Shipyards have pledged their support for the venture which aims to assist as many as 400 children a year.

The Little Optimist Sailing Academy will be based at V&A’s Battery Park, one of the country’s top tourist destinations. It will open its doors with four sailing instructors, two of whom are themselves from disadvantaged backgrounds. Instructors will use a fleet of Optimist dinghies to teach the basics of sailing and water safety. The Academy Programme also aims to instill confidence by imparting skills and confidence.

The venture is the brainchild of well-known local adventurer Greg Bertish, who founded the Little Optimist Trust several years ago for charity purposes. With help from his sponsors Bertish has raised substantial funds to uplift disadvantaged children through sailing programmes.

In a statement issued this week to mark the launch of the Academy Bertish said the academy would concentrate on improving the mental health of troubled youths by injecting optimism and hope into their lives. Other important topics taught would include ocean health, plastic pollution and safety. “Our programme is based on the growth mindset to foster positivity, resilience, sustainability and hope,” Bertish said. “We offer a super fun day of skills building, learning and fellowship. It’s an experience and opportunity that these children would usually never have access to,” he said.

CEO of Two Oceans Marine Mark Delany said: “This is an initiative that will change lives, and introduce children to the wonderful world of sailing, while at the same time giving them skills that can lead to future employment.”

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