Nine maritime students – three females and six males – from the Lawhill Maritime Centre at Simon’s Town School have become the school’s first students to qualify as SAMSA-accredited E-Class Day Skippers.
This industry-recognised, national qualification gives Siphosethu Libalele (Gr 12), Afikamathemba Mbaso (Gr 11), Nqobile Kuzwayo (Gr 12), Anele May (Gr 12), Juvandre Williams (Gr 12), Sylvino October (Gr 12), Xolisa Miggels (Gr 12), Alwande Sithole (Gr 12), Thobeka Mavundla (Gr 11) – their license to command a sailing or motor vessel of 9 metres and under.
This incredible achievement has been made possible by the support of one of the Lawhill maritime programme’s most active funders, the General Botha Old Boy’s Bursary Association Fund (GBOBA BF), which has for more than 10 years invested extensively in the development of young aspiring sailors.
The Fund provides financial support and mentorship to Grade 10 to Grade 12 students from predominantly Durban and Cape Town who participate in Simon’s Town School’s three-year maritime education programme.
The programme, which aims to prepare students for careers in the industry, either ashore or at sea, is the only one in Africa to offer learners three maritime subjects (Maritime Economics, Nautical Science and Marine Science).
These maritime subjects are fully accredited and form part of the National Senior Certificate. They are taken in conjunction with Mathematics, Physical Science, two languages and Life Orientation.
The Lawhill maritime programme has for the past 27 years earned a reputation for academic excellence. Last year, Enkosi Ntame from Port Shepstone in Kwazulu-Natal, achieved 9 distinctions in in his final matric exams.
The GBOBA BF’s motor and sailing programme is a structured programme accredited by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA). Sailing instruction is provided by qualified Ships Masters with extensive experience gained on large vessels in the commercial marine, navy or on yachts.
To qualify as a SAMSA-certified Class E Day Skipper, the nine students were required to complete their Pre-Sea Training with the NSRI, gain between 10 and 16 months of sea-time, pass the NSRI ‘’BravoBravo’’ (theoretical training) course and undergo intense mentorship.
The qualification of these Day Skippers is made even more remarkable by the fact that their training was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, not to mention the limitation of rough seas which restricted training on certain weekends.
Anele May, a Grade 12 student and one of the newly qualified Skippers said: “I can only thank God for all the blessings He has given me. I am so happy with this achievement and want to encourage other young South Africans to consider a career in the maritime industry.
The award-winning Lawhill maritime programme has, since its inception in 1995, helped young South Africans of all races pursue worthwhile careers in the maritime industry. Grade 9s who are interested in joining the maritime programme in 2023 are urged to apply for entry and bursaries on www.lawhill.org.
The GBOBA BF is hoping these successes will attract additional funding that will, in turn, uplift the lives of more young South Africans intent on pursuing a maritime career.
Special thanks must go to Captains Hare, Thompson, Swart and Commander Beattie and Skipper Groenewald and all others who dedicated many hours to equip the students with skills which will increase their post-school employment prospects, particularly in the marine tourism sector.