Founded in 2001, Jeep Team South Africa is the most consistent, longest-running Sports, Wellness and Lifestyle Team in South Africa.
With around 300 athletes moving through the team over the past 16 years, Jeep Team SA provides a highly educational, support and motivational platform for athletes to grow, develop and mature into national and International stars.
International and National paddling star and coach, Barry Lewin, is the longest-standing member of the team, and is an important compass to all new athletes to the team.
With Jeep Team at the helm, international sports events have presented significant opportunities for rising South African athletes to compete on a global stage. These opportunities have proven that local athletes are able to hold their own in the international sporting arena. However, without structures such as Jeep team SA, this newfound success is often curtailed by a lack of effective guidance and management.
Lewin, who joined the team in 2004, now has several local and international titles to his name. Some of his more notable achievements include winning the Liffey Descent in Ireland on his first attempt in 2007, as well as breaking the 25-year-old K1 record a year later at Australia’s Avon Descent.
Says Lewin, “In 2004, I was a student at Varsity College eager to take my sport to the next level. I wanted to race against the best in the world, and in as many places as the sport would take me. With the support of Jeep Team South Africa, I got opportunities to race, firstly, around South Africa, and, in time, around the world, testing myself against some of the best paddlers on the planet. My first breakthrough came in 2005, winning the grading race in Cape Town as the first person to break an hour on the course in a new record time. I also finished 3rd at the Fish River Canoe Marathon in the same year.”
Since joining the team some 13 years ago, Lewin has developed a profound understanding of Jeep Team’s culture, and plays an active role in leading this ethos and the team ethic to both old and new members of the team.
“My highlights have been the amazing places I have paddled and the friends I have made long the way. The results have been a bonus, with wins in South Africa, Ireland, USA, Australia, and the Caribbean. My proudest achievement was captaining the SA National Team to a win at the Southern Shamaal over the strong, favoured Aussie side,” says Lewin.
Max Cluer, Manager of Jeep Team South Africa says, “The goal of the team has been to encourage, support and assist athletes on their journey as racing athletes. Jeep Team SA also has huge aspirational value by educating athletes on social media, cross-sport socialisation, brand building and the opportunity to be the best and race against the best in the world, on the world stage.”
Jeep Team South Africa, home to a group of top athletes, all at the top of their game, across different sporting disciplines, is driven to become the most successful all-round sports team.
Says Lewin, an accomplished river marathon and Surfski paddler, “Jeep Team SA is quite unique in that it poses a full-service support system to the athletes. They don’t put a couple of stickers on your kit and say good luck. They play an integral part in the athletes’ careers. I have been involved with the team for a long time and understand the family culture. The management of the team has always had the athletes’ best interests at heart, and ensures they are mentored, guided and supported. This will be further supported in 2017 with the addition of SARTORITM Brand Managers to the team.”
Concludes Max Cluer, “With the current crop of massively-talented Jeep Team athletes, which include the likes of World Champion, Hank McGregor, ‘The Beast’, Thomas Van Tonder, and the newly added trail running champion Christiaan Greyling, combined with the support of the team, they can only go from strength to strength in the future.”
Says Lewin on his future, “I have a new boat sponsor, Epic Kayaks, and will be racing their boats here in SA, as well as in Mauritius, Europe and Hong Kong this year. I’m hoping to retain my top 10 world series ranking. The Jeep Team is a special family of extraordinary people of whom I am proud to be a part of. I am always extremely proud to pull on my Jeep Team kit and represent this awesome group.”