Plain Sailing for Life Sciences StudentGeneral

Mr Rudi Fokkens and Dr Sean Fennesy blasting in to the finish at the Hobie 16 Provincial Champs.Mr Rudi Fokkens and Dr Sean Fennesy blasting in to the finish at the Hobie 16 Provincial Champs.

Indications are that second-year Life Sciences student Mr Rudi Fokkens will literally sail through his studies!

This prediction is reinforced by UKZN awarding Fokkens a Prestigious Sport Scholarship in response to him receiving KwaZulu-Natal colours for sailing.

‘My passion for sailing ignited my love for the sea and an interest in nature led me choosing to study biological sciences mixed with marine modules. One cannot sail in the company of dolphins, turtles and sharks without questioning what goes on beneath the swells.

‘This scholarship means I can travel to regattas country wide, gaining experience racing in a variety of conditions against the best sailors in South Africa. In addition, the extra money will be very useful as boats, travelling, membership fees and specialised parts are expensive.  Boat maintenance and regular practice are key to achieving consistently good results.’

Fokken’s short-term goal is to spend more time on the water by competing in the various provincial and national championships as well as in University Sports South Africa (USSA) yachting events.

‘Participating in these events allows me to gain more experience, refine my techniques and learn from the world champions South Africa has produced in Hobie catamaran racing.

Within the next five years, Fokken’s ambition is to represent UKZN and South Africa at the Hobie World Championships and regularly participate in international events such as the Lake Malawi marathon and the Tanzacat regatta.

‘As a member of the UKZN Yacht Club committee, I have been inspired by the new generation of student sailors who participated in the recent Inter-Varsity champs.’

His mother, Mrs Janine Fokkens, said: ‘Rudi is a keen and diligent sailor who gives 100 % when competing as well as mentoring and training young and less experienced sailors. The scholarship has given him the added incentive to apply himself, not only to his studies and excel, but to focus on his sailing and prove his worth as a member of the UKZN sailing team.’

Commodore of the UKZN Yacht Club Florence Marshall said: ‘Rudi is a hardworking and diligent sailor. He has been a great asset to the UKZN sailing team and is always keen to sail. This scholarship gives him the chance to focus more on sailing, improving his skills and passing on his knowledge to new students.’

Mentor and previous KZN Hobie Chairman Dr Sean Fennesy said: ‘Rudi continues to mature as a sailor, and has continued his participation and competition in one of the largest and most competitive sailing fleets in the country, which includes several previous world champions. While in the process of gaining more experience, he has also offered advice and help to younger sailors. His exposure to sailing is standing him in good stead in his career development as the sport requires technical and thinking skills as well as imposing physical demands.’

Leena Rajpal