Indomitable Spirit – #LungiSails

 

#LungiSails

I’ve always been quite an odd child with an innate sense of wonder. I still stop and pause when I see a bird fly above me; yes I sometimes envy how they flap their wings against the wind. They do it with so much ease and confidence.

I light up when I see a butterfly and chase it while chatting to it for a minute before remembering that somebody might call the mental institution on me *laughs*. I greet and talk to fishes when sailing, I’ve had photo shoots with unknowing seagulls by at anchorage telling them to strut their stuff.

Over the past 8 months, I’ve done things that I never even dreamed I would last year this time. Truth is I’m just as surprised at my decisions, thoughts and dreams as the next person. Usually something would spark an idea in my head followed by a mental “yes” and it’s done.

Deciding to sail was by far the bravest and the best decision I’ve ever made, it even beats buying a house lol. As I’ve said in my earlier posts, it showed a side of me that I didn’t know existed.

At the beginning, the plan to live the dream was simple…learn to sail, get to know my new fraternity, find a crew, sail, sail and sail. So I found SSB in Bretagne to learn, applied for the VOR OBR position as starting point to use my media skills whilst getting to know my new fraternity and perfecting my sailing art. I worked at it every single day and I’m still at it.

I always knew that there would be challenges; rejections and that didn’t phase me. If anything, it made me more determined. It was all okay until the OBR dream fell into a million pieces and by pieces, that rejection ripped me apart.  I realise now as I write this that I wanted it with all my might, it would’ve been the perfect meeting of two worlds (sailing and photography).

I had a series of breakdowns over a month; it took me a while to even tell people closest to me. I felt like such a failure….the odd and most profound thing was that amidst all the emotions, I would open my sailing theory books and study.

After a couple of weeks, it eventually became evident to me that even though the OBR dream may have not materialised, there was always a deeper yearning beyond VOR. It took me a while to remember that but I’m glad it happened when it did because it saved me from negative thoughts which were not helping at all.

I watched a lot of motivational clips during that time, Inky Johnson’s talk helped make sense of why I was waking up every other day and continued to study and cry later that same day. His father said these words to him whilst helping him train towards his NFL dream.

“Son, I want you to pull that other person outside of you. No matter how hard you work, there is somebody inside of you that works even harder. No matter how committed you are, there is somebody on the inside of that is more committed. You think commitment is “Yes, I’ll do it”. But commitment is staying true to what you said you would do long after the mood you have said it in has left meaning on the days when you don’t feel like it, you get up and do it anyway. That’s what builds character.”

That other person on the inside of me carried me…

I continue learning, the dream is still as vivid as before I took my first step towards it. On days like today, I’m reminded that I’m born from a family of warriors, that blood runs in my veins. I need to remember that in times of weakness 🙂

My heart is open to all lessons and wins…eternally gratefully to have these moments.

To my family and friends, thank you.

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ZULU-GIRL HOPES TO BRAVE THE WATERS IN VOLVO OCEAN RACE 2017/18

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Lungi Mchunu in training at the Gulf of Morbihan, France

Lungi Mchunu may be the only South African on-board one of the boats in the world’s longest professional sporting event and leading offshore sailing competition, which starts in Alicante, Spain in October 2017, as she hopes to be appointed as an On-Board Reporter (OBR) for the Volvo Ocean Race 2017/18.

 

Sport has always been a passion for the energetic 30-year-old, who describes herself as a humble Zulu girl.  Lungi played basketball as a teenager, and following an injury, turned to coaching and mentorship in the sport, which she continues to do today.  Lungi is no stranger to the media world either, as she founded and managed a basketball magazine called B-Ball Mag SA.  She attended games around the world and reported on them, wrote profiles on players, found advertisers and sponsors for her magazine and development events – all while still maintaining a suit-and-tie 9-to-5 job during the week.  Lungi is an avid photographer, often had her eye behind the lens capturing every lay-up, three-point shot, and mid-court break from court-side.

 

All of this experience would culminate in nine months at sea, after Lungi did the unimaginable – and applied to join the crew of the Volvo Ocean Race.  “I’ve always loved the sea but I was afraid of open waters, so for me to even apply for this role was an achievement,” said Lungi.  “Everyone who knows me will tell you that I’ve always tried to live my dreams by refusing to be crippled by fear; and knowing that this scared me, I applied anyway,” she said.

 

Sailing is the only sport that has a dedicated multimedia journalist embedded in the team of athletes, right in the middle of the action. In what could only be described as one of the world’s toughest media jobs, the role of an OBR would be to provide creative content from the boat, around the clock, and provide real life on-board experiences for the millions of followers of the race. She would be required to shoot video footage, capture still photographs, write, edit and transmit content to Race Control, daily, with the occasional live satellite calls.  In a nutshell, Lungi would be the eyes and ears of Race Control on the boat, and her responsibility would be to capture the excitement, anxieties, raw emotions, and crew dynamics in their entirety.

 

As part of the crew, Lungi would cross four oceans – the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Indian and Southern Oceans in a race that is split into nine legs. Each leg will start and finish in leading cities around the world, known as Host Ports. Cape Town is the 3rd Host Port, and is listed as one of the race’s favourite ports, and Lungi would be glad to see home ground continuing with the remaining six legs of the race.

 

With a little over 300 days before the race begins, preparation and readiness is already underway.  “In order for my application to be accepted, I would need to demonstrate that I would be able to tell the story of the sailors as authentically as possible, and I felt that I wouldn’t be able to share the journey if I had not walked (sailed) a mile in the sailors’ shoes,” she said.  This required that she learn how to sail.   In addition to adding advance swimming to her already hectic training regimen, Lungi applied to sailing school . . . in France!  In November 2016, Lungi learnt how to sail on the choppy waters off the west coast of France, and loved every minute of it.  “My instructor gave me the wheel after 20 minutes into the sea! I was nervous but excited. It was so cold and I was shivering with four layers of clothes on, but I took it like a soldier,” she said.

The following days were made up of breakfast at 5:00am and they would set sail at 6:00am; anchorage for lunch and every night was spent at the nearest port. “After two days, the ocean was my home. I had a sense of belonging and felt great. I expected to get sea-sick due to the motion of the boat, but I didn’t suffer at all,” she said.  The experience was not without thrills, as the waves were big, and the vessel was often on its side. The temperate of the water was icy cold, which served as great acclimatisation for Lungi, as sailing during the European winter is no joke, especially as South Africa enjoys warmer winters and warmer waters.

Lungi clearly took to sailing like a duck takes to water and impressed her French instructor, who agreed to host her again during the European summer, where she can work towards a Skipper License. Lungi’s focus for the next two months is to spend as much time on the coast as possible, and sail as often as she can.

When asked why she chose this as the next adventure of her life (because there have been many), she replied, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid? I would sail, and I have!”

Follow Lungi’s sailing adventure on Instagram @lungisails Twitter : @Blk_Rose