Johannesburg - Sanya in China is a long way from Du Noon township in Cape Town. But in a few weeks, Rivaldo Arendse will be there as part of the South African team competing at the Youth Sailing World Championships.
Arendse started sailing when he was 10 years old. Now aged 14, he has enough promise that his coaches and mentors see an Olympic future for the Inkwenkwezi Secondary School student.
He will team up with the recently crowned 29er world champion Benji Daniel for the championships from December 9 to 16, 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,” said Arendse.
“I 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.
Hit with locals
Sailing coach Andre Wollheim has been influential to the young sailor’s progress.
“I first met Rivaldo in 2013, when I arranged for the department of culture and sport to sponsor children from Du Noon to come and learn to sail.
“Out of the six sailors, I could immediately see that he had talent and loved sailing. I decided to take him under my wing.
“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,” Wollheim said.