Tasmanian disabled sailors heading for IFDS World Championships

Disabled sailor Neil Patterson shows the ’sharp end’ of a 2.4mR class boat to Wolfe Brothes country rock band members, lef to right, Tom Wolfe, Casey Kostiuk and Nick Wolfe, at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania.
Peter Campbell
Two Tasmanian sailors who have defied the odds to overcome disabilities caused by sports accidents overseas and return to international sailing, Matthew Bugg and Neil Patterson, will represent Australia at this year’s International Disabled Sailing Championship in Canada in August.

Both will compete in the single-handed keelboat class, the International 2.4mR, a selection series for the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Paralympics.

London 2012 Paralympic representative Matt Bugg flies to Europe next week to contest a number of major international regattas before the IFDS worlds and in Hobart yesterday Neil Patterson announced that he has been added to the Australian Sailing Squad, joining Bugg at the world championships.

Although a relative newcomer to sailing a 2.4mR yacht, Patterson has achieved impressive results after training with Bugg on the River Derwent under the coaching of Richard Scarr.

In his first taste of sailing in a Paralympic class internationally and with only limited training, Patterson finished 28th in a fleet of 45 boat at the IFDA worlds in Ireland last year. This past summer he notched up two third places in the Australian 2.4mR championship in Melbourne.

Patterson, who currently lives in Melbourne, has set his long range sights on representing Australia at the 2020 Paralympic Games in the 2.4mR class.

Joining Patterson at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania yesterday were members of the popular Tasmanian country rock band, the Wolfe Brothers, to launch a fund-raising effort for Patterson’s Paralympic campaign. Neil grew up on the banks of the Huon River, a stone’s throw from where the boys in the band live.

Patterson began sailing in a Sabot at Kingston Beach Sailing Club, later racing catamarans at Lauderdale Yacht Club. However, on a sailing adventure around the Croatian Island of Vis a dive from a cliff left him a paraplegic.

Matt Bugg, heading off the Europe next week.
Peter Campbell

Like Matt Bugg, his love of sailing saw him fight against the odds and finally return to the sport, sailing in the Paralympic classes, the SKUD 18, the Sonar and the 2.4mR, before settling on the 2.4 as his chosen boat.

Tom Wolfe said the band was instantly impacted by Neil’s story. 'He is such an inspirational guy,' he said today. 'After being told he would never walk again, he set a goal to walk 20 meters.'

'In order to make the Australian Paralympic team Neil must get himself to Canada in August to compete in the IFDS world championship,' said brother Nick Wolfe. 'The bottom line is he needs to raise an extra $10,000 to compete in the IFDS world championships. So we are call on everyone in Hobart to help us get this shortfall sorted out so Neil can make his dream come try and then make us all proud by just having a go at making the Australian Paralympic Team.'

The Wolfe Brothers will hold a Sail-for-Gold concert of support at the Grenada Tavern, Berriedale on Saturday, 5 July. For bookings please click here