14 November 2017

South Africa: Arendse, Daniel Fly Flag for SA At Youth World Champs

Sanya, China is a long, long way from Du Noon, Cape Town.

But in just a few weeks, Rivaldo Arendse will cover that distance as part of the South African team to compete at the Youth Sailing World Championships.

There can't be too many other international sailors that call the township home. Arendse started sailing only four years ago, and now just 14 he's shown so much promise that his coaches and mentors see an Olympic future for the Inkwenkwezi Secondary School student.

Arendse will team up with SA's recently crowned 29er world champion Benji Daniel for the championships from 9-16 December where they'll be sailing in the 420 class.

'I'm excited about going but also a bit nervous about competing at an international level,' admitted the talented teenager. 'I also feel very proud of myself about being selected to represent my country.

'I'm hoping to do well, make the team proud and also learn from the experience.'

This won't be the first time Arendse has travelled to China. Last year he was part of an international exchange programme where he got to compete in Qingdao.

One man who has been particularly influential in the young sailor's progress so far is sailing coach Andre Wollheim. 'I first met Rivaldo in 2013 when I arranged for the Department of Culture and Sport to sponsor children from Du Noon to come learn to sail.

'Of the six sailors I could immediately see that he had talent and loved sailing and decided to take him under my wing. Over the next three years I bought Rivaldo firstly an Optimist, then a Mirror and finally a Laser and took him around the country to compete in all the sailing events.

'He continued to improve and in 2016 he travelled to Qingdao as part of the South African team to sail in the Invitational Regatta where he was a hit with the locals. On his return Rivaldo was noticed by RaceAhead.

'It was exceptionally rewarding for me to see him selected for Youth Worlds.'

Speaking about what makes the youngster so special, Wollheim added: 'Rivaldo is multi-talented sailing on dinghies and keel boats and his school marks are also exceptional. On a personal side he has an amazing personality, always willing to help and polite and respectful, which is a huge credit to his mother.

'He certainly has the potential and the motivation to get to the Olympics.

'The next two years' results at Youth Worlds will determine how far he goes as these campaigns require huge funding and funding usually only comes with good results,' he added.

Coaching the team at the Youth World Championships will be two-time Olympian Roger Hudson, who has worked with Arendse in the RaceAhead programme.

'The two most exciting young male talents that RaceAhead has been working with over the last 18 months are Benji Daniel and Rivaldo Arendse. They come from different cities and completely different backgrounds but they'll compete together for South Africa in the 420 class - the feeder boat and miniature version of the Olympic 470 class. Both of them have huge potential in sailing.

'I first saw Rivaldo sailing at a training session at Zeekoeivlei Yacht Club in September last year. He was just 13 at the time and because he is a big lad he was sailing against sailors who were three or four years older than him. What I noticed right away was that he was bright, positive, quick to learn and resilient.'

Now working with him four times a week in a training programme funded by South African Sailing for the Youth World Championships, Hudson added: 'He also absolutely loves sailing, which is vital. He has fantastic potential and we are really enjoying helping him to discover it.

'We will take great care of him in China and for him this time it is not about the result - it is about learning, building skill and setting himself up for great possibilities in the future.'

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