(The following excerpt is provided by columnist Doug Krikorian of the
Press-Telegram, a Long Beach, CA newspaper covering the Congressional Cup.)
It is a most unlikely setting for a historic ethnic breakthrough, one that
figures to have a revolutionary impact on international sailing
competitions. I mean, one doesn't think of the Congressional Cup as an
event that would play a vital role in a sociological milestone, because
it's always been just a nice little regatta cordially hosted by the Long
Beach Yacht Club without too much fanfare, without any controversy, without
even the faintest hint of ever being involved in a revolutionary racial
But that is the case this week as, for the first time ever, a sailing team
from South Africa has a black among its crew members for a major race in a
sign of progress in a country still struggling to recover from the evils of
apartheid institutionalized segregation that finally came to a blessed end
more than 10 years ago. Twenty-five-year-old Ashton Sampson might never be
mentioned in the same sentence with Martin Luther King, Jackie Robinson or
Rosa Parks, but he, nevertheless, still is a pioneer in a country where the
racial divide still is wide, especially on the sporting landscape where the
national cricket team is all white and the soccer team is all black.
He understands that he is considered an oddity in South Africa, a black man
who enjoys sailing more than, well, playing soccer. He understands that, if
he does well and the team does well in the America's Cup in Valencia,
Spain, in 2007, that he can become a huge role model for a lot of young
black kids who might be inspired to give sailing a try as he did one
afternoon on a lake in his native Cape Town when he was a mere 16.
Said Ian Ainslie, a tactician for the South African team, "You must
understand no more than two percent of our population ever heard of the
America's Cup. Now they see this huge yacht in South African colors, and
they see this multiracial team sailing it. I think that's a good sign." -
Doug Krikorian, Press-Telegram, full story,
i always wanted to have an inner city children's sailing school. it would be a nice world if people weren't focused on color. have you seen those billboard ads? somethng like, "wouldn't it be nice if the sentence was "he was an educated man" and not "he was an educated black man"?
i have family in south africa.