by John Curnow
Returning to the Royal Motor Yacht Club Toronto, on the shores of Lake Macquarie in the middle of the NSW coast, for the Heaven Can Wait Dinner was truly an inspiring delight. The event is now in its sixth year and the dinner marks the start of official proceedings, with the waterborne activities getting underway at 11am on Saturday.
Stars of the show, ISAF Sailor of the Year Nominee, Nathan Outteridge and 470 Development Squad member, Will Ryan. - Heaven Can Wait Dinner
Founder, Shaun Lewicki, who so famously created the event whilst lying in his hospital bed recovering from his arduous battle with cancer, was thrilled to see yet another large turnout for the dinner.
Shaun has come a long way since the patch of paint on the wall at the hospital and his sportboat parked on the front lawn inspired him to create the circuit and event that Heaven Can Wait has grown in to. Also here once more and since the very beginning, is Blake Middleton. The former USA Sailing Coach who battled both MS and cancer at the same time, was both a source of encouragement to Sean and inspired himself by one man’s determination to do something about an issue that often is completely looked over
Now, for 24 hours, over 50 boats will do as many laps as they, and the weather can muster. You can support them in the virtual race and raise much needed funds for both cancer research and Marine Rescue NSW, by going to www.heavencanwait.com.au
The target is to get to $50,000, so if you can make a contribution, then please do so and support all of the great sailors out there making a difference.
Then of course there are the crews and sailors who’ll come out to see if they can get around the 29nm course, just the once, in less than two hours and break Nathan Outteridge’s record for the One Lap Dash. Importantly, Nathan himself is back as well, to see if he can indeed take care of all others in the various speed machines they’ll be using. In the 12 months since he set the record last year, Nathan has of course added the Moth World Championship to his growing trophy cabinet.
Nathan Outteridge - two 49er World Championships and reigning Moth Champion looks forward to London 2012. - Heaven Can Wait Dinner
Nathan and Will Ryan were the guests of honour at the dinner. Both hail from the area and remain rooted there, whilst spending a lot of time in countless parts of the globe. Nathan holds two World Championships in the 49er to go along with being the reigning champ in the foiling Moths. Just recently, he has become a nominee for the prestigious ISAF Sailor of the Year award. The latter is something his good friend, Tom Slingsby is presently. The two of them are far too competitive to be on the same boat at the same time, but are present at many of the same regattas as they go about earning a living as professional sailors, crewing in events like the Melges 32 in Mallorca, Spain, which is from where Nathan has just flown in. Nathan’s mum, Jasmine, pointed out that perhaps it was the jet lag that had Nathan struggling behind his sister on the morning run. At any rate, there was no way Nathan was going to go for the showing of the abs this year. Perhaps next?
Will Ryan is a charming lad and part of the Australian Sailing Team’s Development Squad, specifically in the 470’s. Whilst not presently as well known as some of the other young guns around, his name is set to become far more familiar as he tries to become part of the next wave of athletes, whose focus is on the 2016 Olympic Games. This fortunate position is made possible by generous support from the Australian Sports Commission and the sport’s coterie. It is no free ride, however, as the athletes pay in blood, sweat and no doubt, tears. In the case of Will, he is also a student and works when he is in the one place long enough.
Rob Kothe conducted the interview and Q&A session with the stars, seen here with Will Ryan. - Heaven Can Wait Dinner
Once again, the floor was thrilled to have the opportunity to ask questions of these ambassadors. They ranged from what boats they currently own to their dream boat, to how they do make a living and the strict regime they have to adopt to stay inside their weight boundaries. Indeed Will was quick to allow one of the other table guests to have his meringue, knowing that dessert would have to be worked off his 70kg and 6’ 3' ‘frame’, later on. Most were keen to find out about their chances for medals in London and it seems if nothing else, Nathan in particular is really keen to sail the regatta, as he loves the waters and feels he is a solid chance in the 49er.
As the Saturday begins to unfold, the wind is not necessarily going to provide incredible action, just yet, but if you keep an eye on the site www.heavencanwait.com.au, later on in the day and into tomorrow morning, the breeze is set to kick in, providing many inspiring times for all the people involved in this great event.
Former USA Sailing Coach, passionate HCW supporter also MS and Cancer survivor, Blake Middleton. - Heaven Can Wait Dinner
Mark Cherrington and Rob Kothe talk about the 2011 event and the ever-changing weather. - Heaven Can Wait Dinner