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Remembering Cullen Keytel

by Ingrid Hale

The South African sailing community has been shaken this week by the tragic loss of one of their rising stars, Cullen Keytel.

Cullen sailed many types of dinghies in his youth, but his passion was for the Laser. The family have supported and encouraged Cullen throughout his sailing career, lifting him up to be one of South Africa’s promising young sailors with big goals. The family will continue to support his love for sailing and the sailing community with the setting up of the Cullen Keytel Fund for Laser Youth Sailing, focusing their energy on creating opportunities for young sailors to grow and follow their passion for laser sailing, just as Cullen had this passion for Laser sailing too.

As one of South Africa’s bright young sailors about to step out into the lime light, Cullen received numerous awards, amongst which was his Protea colours for competing in the Youth Worlds earlier this year. His achievements had all eyes focused on him for the 2024 Olympics. “Having already achieved so much success in the sport, Cullen’s ultimate goal was to participate in the 2024 Olympics. In 2018 he was awarded the Under-19 Sportsman of the Year award for the Overberg District and this year he was awarded the Rob Meek Memorial Trophy for the Junior Sailor of the Year WC,” said president of SA Sailing, Peter Hall.

Hempel Youth Sailing World Championships The 49th edition of the Youth Sailing World Championships will see over 400 sailors from 66 nations. Gdynia, Poland is hosting the 2019 Youth Worlds from 13-20 July 2019. — with Stefano Marcia, Cullen Keytel, Isabella Wright, stephanie goodyer and Liam Gunning in Gdynia.
The 48th edition of the Youth Sailing World Championships will see 382 sailors from 66 nations racing in 265 boats across nine disciplines. Corpus Christi, Texas, USA is hosting the 2018 Youth Worlds from 14-21 July 2018. — with Cullen Keytel in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Hempel Youth Sailing World Championships The 49th edition of the Youth Sailing World Championships will see over 400 sailors from 60 nations. Gdynia, Poland is hosting the 2019 Youth Worlds from 13-20 July 2019. — with Cullen Keytel in Gdynia.

Cullen’s love for the sport went far beyond just being out on the water and he focused on the sailing community as a whole in almost everything he did. Cullen’s mother, Liza sent us a poem he wrote whilst one of his South African role models was sailing in the Team Shosholoza America’s Cup campaign:

High Performance Sailing

-Written by Cullen Keytel

The Gusting wind storms over the water.

The icy water is cold like an ice cream.

You can hear the sails screech under the pressure.

The booms fold, twist and turn. The boats dive through the water.

You can see the rudder cut through the water like blades.

The sailors stretch their muscles through hiking with their toes.

The rudder holding you boat like concrete to a statue. The wind flowing through your hair.

The water spraying at you like rockets spraying their flaming fuel around.

Our hearts go out to Liza, Bruce and the Keytel family in this devastating time.

The Keytel family invite the sailing community to join them in celebrating Cullen’s life this Saturday (9 Nov 2019) at Royal Cape Yacht Club, Cape Town.

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