DURBAN SAILOR TO SAIL THE PACIFIC OCEAN
By: Iziko Reporter
NQOBA Mswazi has been sailing for just four years and hasn’t been on a yacht for longer than three days — but from this week he’ll have to contend with the wind, waves and weather as spends close to a month at sea as he crosses the Pacific Ocean.
Mswazi, 21, joined the crew of the Invest Africa team in the Clipper Around the World Yacht Race two weeks ago for stage 10 of the race, which was scheduled to start in China today (SUBS: Monday, 16 March). Heavy fog has, however, delayed the start of the 10 741km stage from Qingdao to San Francisco, in the United States. The race’s official website describes this leg of the race as “a monster”.
“I’m really excited, but scared at the same time,” Mswazi said, laughing nervously.
“Dealing with the wind, the cold and the rain will be a huge challenge. This is the first time I’ve ever crossed an ocean — and the Pacific is a really huge ocean — so this is big for me.”
Not only has Mswazi never sailed across an ocean, he’s also never spent more than a weekend uninterrupted on the ocean. And he’s also very much new to the sport.
“Craig Miller, who was skipper of the Durban yacht in the 2005/06 Clipper race, came to my school in 2008 and introduced sailing to us. I was 16 years old. I liked different sports, and I wanted to try sailing out. It was one of those things I never thought I would do, but when I started, I just really liked it,” he said.
He then joined Miller’s Sail Africa sailing school, and it was through the school that he entered to be on the Invest Africa crew. He was one of 10 selected that would partake, each completing a single stage of the race.
Mswazi hails from Umgababa on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast, and moved into Durban’s Umbilo suburb to live with his sister when he was 14. Mswazi admits that he never thought he would sail a yacht, let alone cross an ocean on one.
“I’ve been talking to other sailors, and most of them haven’t crossed the Pacific or any oceans. Doing it at this age is giving me butterflies in my stomach. Finishing this would be huge for me,” he said.
To follow Mswazi’s journey, visit www.clipperoundtheworld.com. He is expected to get to San Francisco on around April 8.