World Record holders Sailors with disabilities will embark on the 2012 Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht race on December 26 for the first time in two years after overcoming a series of hurdles.
This year the crew is making its comeback, ready to take on the challenge for the 18th time on their TP52 ‘Wot Eva’
After years of success including winning their division in the treacherous 1998 and 2007 races, the crew suffered several setbacks including fuel tank failure in 2010, forcing them to withdraw from the race, and damage to the boat in 2011 that prevented them competing.
This year the crew is making its comeback, ready to take on the challenge for the 18th time on their TP52 ‘Wot Eva’.
As the only physically disabled crew participating this year, SWD started competing in the race in 1994 and still hold the World Sailing Speed Record Council’s world record for around Australia non-stop and unassisted circumnavigation, set in 2003.
Founder of Sailors with disABILITIES, skipper David Pescud, said:
'We had some major disappointments over the last couple of years so we’re absolutely thrilled to be back on board for the race this year.
Despite the hurdles the crew has overcome in the last few years, they’ve maintained a really positive and optimistic outlook.
'We’re no strangers to adversity when it comes to both the race and life in general.
'The Sydney to Hobart is the greatest blue water event, showcasing what you CAN do. At the end of the day, we firmly believe that attitude is what will get you over the line. We’re back and we’re determined to finish well.
'Being able to overcome the issues we’ve faced to take part in the race again is a great feeling and we hope it encourages others with disabilities to realise what they are capable of,' he said.
The crew is made up of: David Pescud (dyslexic and round Australia veteran); Paralympic gold medallist Liesl Tesch; Brett Pearce (spina bifida); Lloyd Williams (hearing impaired); George Johnstone; Mark Thompson; Robert Speedy; Karen Hawkett; Bridget Canham; Jason Natherson; Mark Thompson; Brad Allen; Bridget Canham; Cameron Barton; Erin Mander and Gordon Smith.
Crew member Brett Pearce is taking part in the race for the fourth time this year.
'Participating in the Sydney to Hobart is on the bucket list for most sailors, but for a sailor with a disability who has overcome many challenges to participate it is a rewarding experience and something they will always remember.
'I first started sailing with SWD in 2000 and I’ve now been sailing with 8 of the current crew members for more than ten years. This will be my fourth Sydney to Hobart and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve always been really inspired by SWD and what they do so it’s really exciting to be racing with them again,' he said.
SWD is a registered charity that empowers disabled and disadvantaged people through sailing programs for children and adults with disabilities. SWD provides
free sailing programs to over 4,000 children a year.
SWD has had enormous support from the corporate and broader community, including Philanthropist Graeme Wood, who donated ‘Wot Eva’; Ian Kiernan AO, who has been a Patron of SWD since 1994; and The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull, who was announced as a Patron in 2011.
'Our ultimate goal at SWD is to provide disadvantaged and disabled children, adults and youth at risk with the skills, confidence and capability to achieve their individual goals through sailing.
'Our programs are supported by volunteers and voluntary organisations so we encourage sponsors and donors to get involved for a great cause,' Mr Pescud said.
For further information on SWD, visit Sailors with Disabilities
This year the crew will be keeping their fans and followers updated as the race unfolds via SwDysney and Facebook SwDysney