Daphne Jacobs and sailors from the Izivunguvungu MSC Foundation for Youth took first and second places at a Tri-Nations event beating Italian and Nigerian teams to third and fourth places respectively, sailing in the Gulf of Naples with Mount Vesuvius under the guidance of local hero, captain Salvatore Sarno.
A second “friendly” regatta was held on Monday, a holiday in Italy to celebrate the founding of the Republic, and the president of the Lega Nevale, Rosaria Rosini said the friendship generated by Shosholoza and the important work done by Sarno for youngsters at the Izivunguvungu Foundation showed the way for promoting all that was positive in society.
“We have to build for our future. We can start by creating a spirit of fraternity among all of us, no matter what our differences are,” said Rosini.
Captain Sarno grew up in a nearby village and is famous as the founder of the South African campaign that evoked so much passion at the 2007 America’s Cup, and is applauded for Shosholoza’s development wing – the Izivunguvungu MSC Foundation for Youth – which was also represented in Naples at the weekend.
The Izivunguvungu sailors’ senior seafaring comrades of Shosholoza wowed the city of Naples, Italy, on Sunday, with a virtuoso display of speed, technology and African exuberance as the celebrity guest entry of a 200-boat fleet competing in the city’s annual nautical festival.
“It was incredible to be part of the Naples Velalonga. Everyone was very excited, very happy to see and touch Shosholoza. They want us to come back next year,” said Sarno. “It was an important opportunity to continue our campaign. To show the Italians our African dream and a piece of South Africa, especially with our current problems at home which have been televised so much here in Europe.
“We want people to know us at close quarters and to invite them to come to South Africa without any fear, both now, and in 2010 to watch the Soccer World Cup,” said Sarno, who as a resident of 20 years has adopted South Africa as his own.
It was an impressive spectacle for the thousands of people lining the promenade as the huge 24 metre South African America’s Cup class yacht towered over the fleet in the pre-race sail past held in Gulf of Naples that is hemmed by a steep cityscape of ancient castles and palaces, the volcanic Mount Vesuvius and the romantic isle of Capri.
Yachts jostled to stay close to Shosholoza RSA 83 but within seconds of the start she had left the fleet far in her wake to create her own race on the 13 nautical mile coastal course featuring famous land marks and take the finish gun in an hour and 27 minutes.
Although an exhibition race it was a poignant moment for Shosholoza helmsman Paolo Cian and team managing director Sarno, who are both celebrities in this historic Italian port city. Cian, himself a Neapolitan, is a national sailing hero currently ranked third on the world match racing leader board.
At times there were over a 100 people an hour visiting yacht Shosholoza at her mooring in the Lega Navale, eager to talk to the crew, climb on board and be photographed.
“I like very much the meaning of Shosholoza. For us it is a symbol that we in Naples can aspire to. Like Shosholoza we can be inspired to work together, move forward together and grow together,” said Rafaela Montella, a Neapolitan fan.
Izivunguvungu coach Kader Williams said the six students from Simonstown in the Cape were warmly welcomed. The Lega Navale had gone out of their way to integrate them with young Neapolitans as well as show them cultural and historical sites
Team Shosholoza was proudly sporting the branding of their new sponsors MSC Crociere and Breil Milano at the Naples Velalonga.