Ahead of Armed Forces Day on Saturday 29th June, a group of wounded and injured military personnel have confirmed their entry into one of the world’s most infamous and arduous yacht races, the Rolex Fastnet Race. The ‘Team Endeavour’ crew, who despite their injuries are all still serving members of the armed forces, will take part in a number of training races ahead of the iconic race itself on 11th August.
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Project ‘Team Endeavour’ is jointly funded by the Team Army Sports Foundation and the Endeavour Fund, an initiative created by The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
'My comrades-in-arms across the Armed Forces are fighters by definition, fighters by nature. The Endeavour Fund aims to reignite that fighting spirit, and inspire those who have served their country to go on and achieve great things,' His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales.
Tri service charity, Toe In The Water, are providing their full support to the team of 'graduates' taking part in the iconic race by loaning their Farr 52 race yacht which was generously donated by previous owners, former BP Chairman Tony Hayward, Centrica Chief Executive Sam Laidlaw, and Rob Gray, in 2012.
The project will be led by Toe In The Water graduate, Capt Pete Hayward, who was injured in Afghanistan in 2010 and the charity's Director of Racing and serving Royal Engineer, Capt Lloyd Hamilton MBE will be taking up the position of skipper. For Capt Hamilton, the Rolex Fastnet will be the last offshore race he competes in before being deployed to Afghanistan on his fourth tour in October 2013 and he is relishing the prospect of enabling the team of injured soldiers, sailors and airmen to compete in this epic challenge. Toe In The Water’s usual remit does not include offshore racing as it focusses on using competitive day sailing as an extension of the rehabilitation programmes carried out by the military medical chain.
Speaking about the project, Capt Hamilton said: 'When Pete Hayward approached Toe In The Water about the possibility of entering a mixed ability crew into the Fastnet race, we immediately saw an opportunity to not only support the injured guys to advance their sailing experience, but also to enable many of them to develop broader skills like planning and organisation as well as collaborating with other commercial and not-for-profit partners.'
He added: 'The majority of the crew will be selected from wounded and injured service personnel who have either already been through a Toe in the Water programme (graduates) or those who have acquired some sailing experience via another route. Racing offshore will be a new experience for the most of the crew and we are really excited to be able to facilitate this event, enabling the crews to push themselves even further in such a gruelling race.'
As Toe In The Water is an entirely privately funded charity, additional support for project ‘Team Endeavour’ needed to be sought. The Team Army Sports Foundation is a registered charity whose purpose is to drive funding for Army sport. Team Army believe that sport is critical to the welfare and morale of the Armed Forces and, outside of Army and Corps sport investment, the Foundation also make grants to charities that offer sporting opportunities for injured soldiers.
Major General Lamont Kirkland, Chief Executive of the Team Army Sports Foundation said: 'We are immensely proud to be supporting this unique project. The crew dynamic makes it the only truly tri- service boat competing in the Rolex Fastnet Race and, with the team aiming to be the first service boat to cross the finish line; I have no doubt that there will be some fierce competition out there on the water.'
When the Endeavour Fund were made aware of the project, they offered to match the Team Army Sports Foundation’s contribution, thereby giving the green light to the crew of serving injured personnel and enabling them to secure their entry into one of the world’s most legendary yacht races. Formed by The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, the Endeavour Fund supports expeditions, and sporting challenges that are undertaken by our nation's wounded in order that these endeavours will act as a catalyst to the recovery of the participants and inspire others to take up their own challenges.
Nick Booth, Chief Executive of The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry: 'The Endeavour Fund is delighted to support ‘Team Endeavour’ in the Rolex Fastnet Race. We hope that this race, and our future Endeavours, will inspire many more wounded Servicemen and women to explore new physical challenges as part of their recovery. We wish ‘Team Endeavour’ the very best of luck.'
The crew will be 16 strong and, with at least 50% having sailed 300 nautical miles in an offshore race together prior to the Rolex Fastnet, training and gaining qualifying miles through the summer will be crucial to the success of the project.
In preparation, the crew will take part in a number of training races which include:
• Morgan Cup Race - Cowes to Dieppe (28 June 2013)
• Cowes- Dinard- St Malo Race – Cowes to St Malo (12 July 2013)
Capt Hamilton continued: 'We want to share the incredible journey these young men and women will be undertaking on the Rolex Fastnet and are fortunate to have the technology available to bring this adventure to life. Throughout the race we plan to post blogs, images and videos so that followers and supporters can follow the crew's progress every step of the way.'
For injured service personnel, many of whom have been wounded in active service in Afghanistan and Iraq, participation in a Toe In The Water programme acts as an extension to their rehabilitation process, giving them the chance to compete in sailing at a high level and improve their self-confidence and outlook on life. With medical support on hand both on and off the water, the patients race with and against able bodied crew and are able to push themselves out of their comfort zones enabling them to recognise their own capabilities.
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