Happiness is plain sailing. These kids show you why


Safe spaces aren’t always comfortable. Kyle Koeries and Thomas Lawa found theirs in the midst of high seas and fierce winds. What began as an after-school activity for the 12-year-olds has turned into an escape from the pressures of life – an affliction experienced even by the young. “Whenever I’m sailing, it feels as if all my problems are off my shoulders,” Lawa says. “When someone makes me mad I just get on my boat.” Despite only taking to the waters last year, the boys are already mastering the sport and making waves.

“The biggest challenge on the water is the wind,” Koeries says. “Because the wind determines how you rig your boat,” Lawa adds. These sailors won’t let any circumstances stop them from pursuing adventure. Bringing the lessons learnt at sea back to shore, they know how to adapt in every area of their lives – an invaluable life skill. Koeries and Lawa dream of one day becoming professional sailors. It will require steadfast dedication, and there’s no backing down. But they are ready. “Whenever I am going sailing, regardless of whether I am racing or just cruising, a great amount of preparation has gone into it,” Koeries says. “My boat needs constant care and maintenance.”

While Koeries and Lawa joined the George Lakes Yacht Club as an extra mural activity, their skills have exceeded initial expectations. “Thomas and I have won the most trophies at our yacht club,” Koeries says. Together, they conquered both the Knysna and Mossel Bay Yacht Club regattas. But the best is yet to come. The pair have been selected to compete at an international regatta in Qingdao, China, later this year, and have the full backing of their community. “I feel very passionate about sailing and there are a lot of people here that motivate you to do better,” Koeries says. Through consistent practice, as well as the encouragement of those around them, the boys are certain that success lies ahead. “It doesn’t matter what circumstances you come from, you can still achieve what you want to be,” Lawa says. Koeries’ advice? “Just keep on fighting.” If you’re willing and prepared, a sea of opportunity awaits.