Shark-attack survivor Caleb Swanepoel showed disability is no match for determination when he claimed the Great Optimist Race winner title for the second year in a row at the V&A Waterfront this Saturday.
The Stellenbosch University student, who has a prosthetic leg, was first over the finish line in his Two Oceans Marine boat. He was closely followed by big wave surfer Matt Bromley and double lung-transplant recipient Tanya Bothma.
“I just think it’s such a special event. As much as we are having fun and getting in the water, there’s a bigger picture to it. It’s for an incredible cause and there are so many charities involved, so for me it’s just a privilege to be here, to learn and grow. It’s really special knowing that it’s for something bigger than yourself and it doesn’t matter who comes across the line first at the end of the day,” said Swanepoel.
The Great Optimist Race
Bothma, who is a sailing novice, took the early lead before being overtaken by Swanepoel and Bromley. However, she claimed the fund-raising crown, collecting R40 000 that will be split between Groote Schuur’s Lung Transplant Unit and the Little Optimist Trust.
“Last year someone raced with me. This year I did it entirely on my own,” said Bothma. “There was no wind, so it was really hard, and I was totally exhausted by the end of it, but I loved every minute. The highlight is being able to raise money for the Groote Schuur Lung Transplant Unit.”
Springbok rugby player Scarra Ntubeni and adventurer Riaan Manser joined the unique collaborative charity event, although their size proved a disadvantage when racing the boats designed for children. Singer Craig Lucas and Cape Talk radio host Pippa Hudson also took part.
The Great Optimist Race was a highlight of this weekend’s Cape Town International Boat Show, and involved celebrities, captains of industry and medical survivors – many of whom are completely new to sailing – racing to raise funds for various NGOs and charities.