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Amputee Wins First Prize
Young Caleb Swanepoel from Prince Albert in the Western Cape, South Africa is an amputee and a sailor. He also has an amazingly positive attitude and refuses to allow the fact that he lost a leg to get him down or to mess with his love for sailing. With this can-do attitude, Caleb succeeded in sailing the Great Optimist Race this year at the annual Cape Town Boat Show – and winning first prize.
Pushing boundaries, despite limitations
Caleb lost his leg in 2015 when a shark attacked him while he was bodysurfing in Buffalo Bay, a popular surf beach on the Garden Route of the Cape Province. Despite his devastating loss, Caleb has proven over and over that nothing can hold him back from achieving his dreams. He continues to take part in water sports and competitions such as the South African Short Course National Champions swimming competition which was held in KwaZulu Natal this year and the Great Optimist Sailing Race in the Cape, which he won.
The Great Optimist Race was hosted by the Little Optimist Trust, a fundraising initiative that launched a sailing academy for children in need. All sponsorships of the race and the donated boats will be used at the academy to teach these young people how to sail. Participants of the Optimist Race comprised of people who have survived against all odds such as Conn Bertish who survived cancer and Tanya Bothma, a double lung transplant survivor. This year the race was also attended by local celebrities like Arno Carstens and Josie Borain.
A message of hope
Caleb proved that his sailing skills were better than 40 other hopeful sailors, and won first prize. In an interview, Greg Bertish, the host of the race, spoke about the fundamental message of the event. According to Bertish, the race is all about spreading a message of hope to all people who have beaten the odds and survived, despite experiencing tragedy.