by Jo Uffendell
Hampshire based tri service charity Toe in the Water have their first competitive outing of the year as they contest the RORC Easter Regatta this Spring Bank Holiday weekend. The regatta, which runs out of Cowes, will be the first of six that the charity will participate in on-board Farr 52, Toe in the Water, during the year.
Toe in the Water logo
Using competitive sailing as a rehabilitation tool, tri service initiative Toe in the Water, aims to re-inspire the men and women of our Armed Forces who have sustained profound and traumatic injuries often including the loss of limbs, to move beyond their injury and become re-inspired by life.
Seeking to continue the success of last year’s racing season will be skipper for this event, record breaking yachtsman and charity ambassador, Brian Thompson. Speaking ahead of the weekend, Thompson said:
'The RORC Easter Regatta really starts the season off in style and is a great opportunity for sailors to dust themselves off after the long winter. Amongst all the competitors there tends to be a relaxed, encouraging atmosphere with the focus on coaching and improvement. It really is the perfect introduction to the world of competitive sailing for our new Toe in the Water recruits.'
Thompson added: 'Despite the varied conditions we have experienced at this event in the past, Toe in the Water has enjoyed some fabulous racing and I am sure this year will be no exception. With silverware prizes swapped for Easter eggs it is a must for all competitive chocoholics! '
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.
Toe in the Water’s Racing Director, Captain Lloyd Hamilton MBE, who will be joining the regatta fresh from his pre-deployment training (for Afghanistan) in Kenya said:
'We are just part of the journey for the guys that sail with us and patients are limited to participating in just two events to encourage them to move on and explore other opportunities. Many have never been sailing and the challenge is amplified by the fact that the boats and kit are not adapted in any way.'
Toe in the Water receives no statutory funding and relies entirely on voluntary contributions from individuals, trusts and companies. The swell of public support in particular from the sailing world has been phenomenal; it is with this backing and that of the military that competitive campaigns like Toe in the Water will continue to succeed and help meet the needs of our injured servicemen and women.