Many crew new to sailing offshore find it hard to initially cope with being at sea, but the Wild Rose Kids' Cancer Project charity bear Ben passed his first offshore test on the weekend in great style in the lead up to the great race south on Boxing Day. Ben is racing to Hobart on Wild Rose to help raise money for The Kids' Cancer Project which helps funds research into some of the most aggressive childhood cancers - which, of course, helps with the development of knowledge and possible cures for all types of cancers.
Ben fits in well with getting his significant crew weight up on the rail
There was a big swell offshore with a rather large tide racing through the heads as the Wild Rose crew introduced their newest member to the highs and lows of offshore yacht racing. The crew were having one last outing during the Rolex Passage Race Trophy over the weekend before setting sail to Hobart after Christmas. Skipper Roger Hickman is competing in his 36th Sydney Hobart so had plenty of encouragement for Ben, and of course, advice for the rest of the crew who have individually completed between one and 25 Sydney Hobarts.
Ben grinned and beared it (sorry!) as he learned how to move his weight from side to side during the numerous tacks to get out of the harbour, particularly on Sunday. Ian Mainsbridge was up in a chopper and took some great shots to prove that our bear was holding his own as a useful crew member. Some high profile skippers even commented that Ben seemed to hike harder than many of their own seasoned crew (these people will remain nameless to protect the reputations of the crew who may have been in the mind of these skippers - in all likelihood an unfair reflection of the crews' perception of reality versus that of the skippers).
Ben learning about tactics and navigation - Rolex Passage Trophy
About six other boats in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race are also raising funds for this extremely worthy charity. As we know, there are so many worthy causes that each of us would love to donate to, and there are only so many that we can support. However, if you would like to support Ben and the Wild Rose crew in raising money to help kids and their families going through very difficult times, please visit http://www.everydayhero.com.au/wild_rose.
The Wild Rose and the other involved crews including those on Patrice Six and Lunchtime Legend, are fulfilling a dream to compete in this iconic race, which many Australians and international people, whether sailors or not, aspire to achieve one day - while relatively few actually get to make that dream come true.
We feel privileged to also be sailing to Hobart and knowing that all of these kids and their families, and all of our generous donors are cheering us on. We hope that our fundraising efforts may one day give one of the kids currently dealing with aggressive cancer the chance to fulfil that dream themselves - although many of them at this stage just hope to be well enough to spend Christmas Day at home with their families rather than in hospital.
We hope that many have that wish come true as well as one day be inspired by Ben's brave adventure to do their first, or many, Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Races.