South Africa is a country rich in beauty and rife with contradictions. The infinite natural beauty and abundance of the landscape is contrasted by a stark divide between rich and poor, between those who have endless opportunities, and those who have to fight for survival. It is a place where you can never feel indifferent. Hout Bay is a microcosm of the South African reality. The breathtaking scenery masks the harsh contrast between advantaged and disadvantaged communities.
Sentinel Ocean Alliance was founded in 2018 to try and address some of these disparities and to create opportunities for the underserved coastal communities and at-risk youth of Hout Bay.
Our founder, Frank Solomon, is a professional big wave surfer who grew up on these beaches and was exposed to surfing and the ocean from a young age. He has since travelled the world in search of the biggest waves. Frank realised that he had to use his position of privilege to help create access to similar opportunities as those he had as a boy. This led him to set up Sentinel Ocean Alliance, and create a safe space on the beach for anyone from the local communities to come and learn about and develop a love for the ocean.
We started off by establishing the Hout Bay Surf Lifesaving Club - a development club that has grown to almost 60 members and that won the prestigious Sports Charity of the Year award in 2019. We have also partnered with Waves For Change, a mental health programme that uses surfing as a means of therapy. In December 2020, with the support of Parley For The Oceans, we launched the world's first Parley Ocean School.
We also developed our own swimming programme, Turn The Tide, which combines mindfulness practices, ocean theory and practical swimming lessons in the ocean with which we hope to reach as many children as possible to help teach them how to swim and to connect with the ocean.
Sentinel Ocean Alliance now runs comprehensive and immersive programmes that provide one of a kind ocean education and ocean immersion experiences to the underprivileged youth of South Africa’s coastal communities.