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.
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. His memorial and celebration of life was held on 9 November at the Royal Cape Yacht Club in Cape Town.