Quintin van Jaarsveld
In just two short years, Uvongo-based Faith Lategan has gone from ‘clueless’ rookie to trailblazer in the South African skipper spheres.
Lategan, a member of Shelly Beach Ski-Boat Club, was awarded South African Deep Sea Angling Association (SADSAA) colours for skipping at the provincial awards in Amanzimtoti on Friday.
The 31-year-old is believed to be the first woman to achieve this national honour.
“It was a very, very proud moment for me. It is an incredible honour for me, both as an upcoming angler and skipper, and I am truly grateful that our beloved club has made it possible for me as a skipper,” Lategan told eHowzit.
“This achievement is for my mom Marina and my sister Joey. Thank you for all your support and belief in me and for every message of well and safe wishes. I will wear my colours with pride!”
Lategan was unaware of the larger significance of her achievement; she only learnt she’d made history when Shelly Beach Ski-Boat Club chairman Anton Gets made the announcement at the function.
Lategan’s improbable journey was set in motion by a setback. Injury had forced the provincial level equestrian and martial artist to pursue a different sporting challenge and she opted to give fishing and skipping a try.
It quickly became her passion.
“I was always filled with these overwhelming emotions of humbleness, inferiority and insignificance of us as human being when compared to the ocean and that is what drove me to pursue skipping,” she explained.
“I made a conscious decision to put angling aside and pursue skipping, not because I don’t love our sport, I do, with all my heart, but because my soul yearns for those emotions.
“I want to experience the ocean in all its wonder and splendour and I want to learn what is still hidden within me that being at the helm of a boat will teach and manifest and make surface. I’ve never taken a boat through the surf or brought it back and felt less of a person.
“I’ve always a little more complete, a little more humbled and intensely aware of the magic that the ocean has shown me once again, not merely within myself but regarding every single angler I’ve ever had on our boat. Those are lessons I would want to die with – that is the magic I breathe and say thank you for.”
Under the guidance of Gets, Charles and Juley du Plessis (all of whom were also acknowledged at Friday’s provincial awards) and other club members, Lategan started to learn the ropes.
“I couldn’t tell starboard from port and I didn’t know the difference between a nautical mile and a mile. If Charlie or Juley told me we were going at 25 knots I would ask ‘where is the rope to count the knots on?’” she laughed.
“I wasn’t raised in a deep sea angling environment and I never went out on any boat apart from tours. I really had no clue about the dynamics of the ocean or what angling or skipping a boat entailed.”
In October of 2014, she skipped her first inter-provincial, in Sodwana, which proved to be baptism of fire. “It’s a tough and trying place to skip but incredibly fulfilling,” she remarked.
Rapid improvement resulted in more opportunities to test her skills in inter-provincial and national competitions, where her performances earned her provincial colours in 2015 and SADSAA colours this year.
Lategan stressed the support and tutelage she’s received from her clubmates are the main reasons for her success.
“It’s because of the support, guidance and unconditional belief in my abilities of some incredibly selfless and beautiful people that I was able to take this tiny step forward on this long journey I will travel within myself and our angling community,” she said.
“Charles and Juley [du Plessis], thank you with everything within for all the time and patience you have put into guiding and teaching me. When I knew absolutely nothing of this magnificent sport, you took interest in guiding me and awakened a passion within me that I didn’t know existed. I will never be an empty being ever again because of your love and belief in me.
“I have been privileged to fish with and skip for many anglers but none as selfless and giving in our sport as you and for that I am grateful beyond what words could manifest. You are an example to so many out there.
“From where you came to where you are now, not only in your personal but your professional lives as well. Thank you for the trust you have always shown in allowing me to skip your boat and also the belief that I am capable of results. May I always be worthy of such unconditional love and dedication from you.
“I also want to thank probably my biggest mentor, Anton Gets. ‘Ballie’, thank you very much for your guidance and belief in me. For always having your finger on my throat and for making me always want to strive higher and bigger but also for making me see and understand that in the bigger picture of things, we should always remain at the bottom of the ladder because with the ocean and skipping, there is never a top of the ladder. You are like a father to me ‘Ballie’, a very strict and in-my-face father and I respect that deeply. I will take what you teach me to heart always and your legacy will be in what we are able to carry forward because of you.
While she’s extremely proud of her historic feat, Lategan said she didn’t want it to define her as a skipper.
“Although SADSAA colours is the benchmark for every skipper to work towards, I wouldn’t want to be remembered for that.
“My ultimate goal is to learn and grow not only as a skipper but within myself, to deliver results and be a conscious and humble skipper because with the ocean there is never a ‘top’ to strive for.
“I want any team that fishes with me to not only achieve results but get off our boat better within themselves as well as better anglers. This is not just a sport; it’s beauty and passion, something the ocean gives us that we can’t find anywhere else.
“I hope I will be able to share my journey and story with more and more out there and be able to learn from every single angler and skipper out there. In the end, we all share a mutual passion and it would be my greatest honour to be able to share at least a small piece of all our other anglers and skippers’ journeys and teachings.”