STARBOARD TO SUCCESS – Broadening horizons and access to opportunities

Alexander Owen shares the story of an initiative that gives South African students the opportunity to learn about the superyacht industry in Palma de Mallorca …

Four Grade 12 students, Liyabona Njingolo, from the Royal Cape Yacht Club, alongside, Simamkele Ntingiso, Nhlakanipho Lebengu and Liqhawe Mdoda from the Lawhill Maritime Centre at Simon’s Town School, have been given the opportunity of a lifetime – an all-expenses paid visit to the Spanish island of Mallorca to experience, first hand, the skills needed to navigate the international superyacht industry.

The two-week trip comes courtesy of Marine Inspirations, a maritime mentoring initiative based in the island’s capital city, Palma.

Founded in 2014, the initiative has successfully empowered over 50 students from across South Africa, through its partnership with Lawhill and others.

The superyacht industry, often viewed as high-profile and exclusive, has historically been out of reach for the majority of South African youth, in particular those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

For nearly 10 years, Marine Inspirations’ Palma trips have helped connect hard working youth from these backgrounds to the fast growing, multi-billion dollar industry, through the education and experience offered.

While in Palma, the students will have the opportunity to meet various industry professionals, such as those operating in yacht construction, design, and technological development, as well as hone their practical sailing skills on the Mediterranean sea.

Marine Inspirations co-founder Phil Wade, a retired superyacht captain, commented, “I believe in ‘paying it forward’. It is crucial to the continued success of the industry. Marine Inspirations does exactly that.”

All of the students are involved in sailing programmes in Cape Town, with the trip – which will take place from 21 September to 2 October – offering an opportunity to apply their knowledge in a new, unfamiliar environment.

“This type of exposure is crucial to their future success in the international maritime industry. However, we wouldn’t be able to offer this opportunity if it weren’t for the fantastic work being done by Lawhill and the Royal Cape Yacht Club who work hard to educate and equip our young sailors to make the most of this opportunity”, commented Wade.

Lawhill Maritime Centre’s Programme Administrator, Ms Faye Kula, said, “This trip is an opportunity for these students to apply the maritime knowledge they have gained at school and to benefit from the mentoring and expertise of highly skilled professionals such as Phil Wade. The value of this cannot be understated and holds incredible significance in the students’ lives.”

The students will have the opportunity to meet four of the initiative’s alumni – Lutho Thomas from Motherwell outside Gqeberha, Sylvino October from Oudtshoorn and Janoel Meyer and Abdul Shukri Kaffoor from Mitchell’s Plain in the Western Cape –  who used the expertise, connections and experience they learned to pursue various international careers at sea.

Marine Inspirations celebrates its 10th anniversary next year, marking a milestone in its vision for international collaboration and youth empowerment through job creation.

For more information, and queries regarding funding support for either programmes, visit or


If your career has included a number of lucky breaks and you’ve been fortunate to have mentors and ‘’champions’ who’ve open doors for you, why not consider doing the same for others?

‘Paying it forward’ has become a way of life for many of our sponsors, including retired superyacht captain, Phil Wade, who has dedicated a significant part of his retirement to making the superyacht industry more accessible for high potential youth from underserved communities.

Close on ten years ago, Wade co-founded the maritime mentoring initiative, Marine Inspirations, with fellow South African yacht captain, Anthony Just. Their aim was to introduce youngsters from underserved communities to the world of superyachting.  They knew that, in order to be successful, they had to find the best young talent possible and approached the Lawhill Maritime Centre in Simon’s Town near Cape Town (

The vast majority of students who travelled to Spain have gone on to achieve successful careers in the maritime or related industries, and there is no doubt that the trips to Spain contributed enormously by motivating them and boosting their self-esteem, confidence and view of the world.

More importantly, all the Lawhill alumni working full time in Palma have decided to embrace the Lawhill ethos of ‘’lifting others as you rise’’.  They are using their tip money to ‘pay it forward’ and create opportunities for more students at Lawhill.