Just when you thought the V&A Waterfront couldn’t offer up anything more, an exciting new venue is set to open its doors next month at Battery Park. Cape Town’s premium tourist destination and The Little Optimist Trust have teamed up to launch The Little Optimist Sailing Academy — a long-time dream of big wave surfer, sailor and ocean activist Greg Bertish.
The academy’s primary focus will be on providing sailing therapy to disadvantaged children from across the Western Cape, but it will also be available for private functions such as parties and children’s lessons. Each paid lesson will go towards sponsoring a child who can’t afford to pay.
Using a fleet of unique Optimist dinghies, children will be taught the basics of sailing and water safety, before giving them the opportunity to captain their own boat. Bertish says the academy will concentrate on improving the mental health of troubled youths by injecting optimism and hope into their lives. Other important topics taught will include ocean health, plastic pollution and safety.
“Our programme is based on the growth mindset to foster positivity, resilience, sustainability and hope”, says Bertish. “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.”
With several heavyweights from the local sailing industry such as Two Oceans Marine pledging their support, Bertish believes the academy can assist up to 400 children a year.
CEO of Two Oceans Marine Mark Delany says, “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.”
Other Cape Town businesses getting behind the venture include Italtile and Southern Wind Shipyard.
The academy will open its doors with four sailing instructors on board, two of whom — Amir Yaghya and Shane Josephs — come from disadvantaged backgrounds and have gone on to become respected mentors in their communities and the sailing world and will serve as the ideal role models for learners.
For more information or to book a lesson or party, visit www.thelittleoptimisttrust.org