Just you, 24 hours and Lake Macquarie

2007 Heaven Can Wait Regatta - Sunday morning -24 hours of hard work for the sports boat Stealthy and her crew.

With just under three weeks to go until the 2009 Heaven Can Wait charity yacht race gets under way, 31 boats have entered, with up to twice that number expected to cross the start-line on Saturday October 3.

The race, now in its fourth year, raises funds for the NSW Cancer Council and the Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol, and was initially conceived by Lake Macquarie sailor and cancer survivor Shaun Lewicki.

The event consists of two Heaven Can Wait (HCW) races, held concurrently on the waters of Lake Macquarie, just south of Newcastle, NSW, a 24 hour race in which participants sail around the course as many times as they can over 24 hours, and a 'One Lap Dash' which finishes before nightfall.

'The HCW 24 hour race is a challenging event to take part in,' said HCW YC commodore Shaun Lewicki.

'The event is sailed on Australia's largest salt water lake. It requires good navigation and management of watches to remain competitive over the 24 hours.

'At the same time, it provides excellent experience for those who have not done any overnight racing, in a relatively protected environment, with rescue facilities close at hand throughout the duration,' he said. 'And we can guarantee that in the 100 to 200 nautical miles yachts will sail, no container ships or ocean freighters will cross their path' he smiled.

The two races are organised and hosted by the Heaven Can Wait Yacht Club and the Royal Motor Yacht Club Toronto, and starts and finishes at RMYC Toronto.

Boats can enter either or both races, which have a common start line and use the same course.

The One Lap Dash is a conventional 'first past the post' handicap race with times and places recorded by the event’s committee boat, while the HCW 24 hour race requires participants to log mark roundings as the go around the course, and provide a precise GPS position and estimated elapsed distance at the end of the 24 hours.

'Many of our entries are ‘repeat’ entries, as once you’ve done the race, you realise what a great event it is, and what a considerable and very satisfying achievement it is to complete it.'

According to Lewicki, up to 15 boats will be coming up the coast from Port Jackson or Pittwater, while trailerables are coming from as far away as Victoria and the ACT.

'The silting up of the Swansea Channel has handicapped our ability to attract keelboats from out of the lake, but dredging is due to commence this week, and – due to fantastic co-operation from the NSW Lands Department and the dredging contractor, we are now very confident the channel will be dredged sufficiently to allow boats through to the lake,' he said.

Lewicki said the event is also on track to raise record funds for the charities it supports.

'In 2008, the Heaven Can Wait (HCW) race raised over $13,000 for the NSW Cancer Council’s Hunter division and the Lake Macquarie division of the Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol.

'All race entry fees go to these two charities and are fully tax deductible,' he said.

'This year the event has seen the introduction of sponsorship for individual boats, where family, friends and colleagues of the crew on boats entering can make donations directly to the Cancer Council.

'Already individual boat sponsorship has raised over $6,000 for cancer research and support programs,' said Lewicki.

For more information, or to enter on the 2009 HCW event, please go to the website at www.heavencanwait.com.au. To go to the sponsorship page, please go to www.everydayhero.com.au/heaven_can_wait_charity_event.

Media wishing to cover the event should go to the Media Registration area at www.heavencanwait.com.au