Thursday, 20 May 2010

RTI: Charity supporters and celebrity ambassadors get onboard the SailTime Charity Challenge at the JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race

Triple Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie with the Breast Cancer Care crew at the sail training day. L-R: Simon Childs, Marcia Mercier, Dennnise Sheppard and Penny Anne-Hinds. Image copyright onEdition.

by Dan Wilkinson

Once again there will be a charity challenge hitting the water at the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race (19 June 2010). Four cancer charities have each been provided a SailTime Beneteau Oceanis 40 yacht and an experienced skipper and first mate for the race, with the crews aiming to fundraise a combined total of £18,000. The challenge forms part of J.P. Morgan Asset Management’s continued commitment to charitable causes, which has helped raise over £350,000 during their time as title sponsor of the Round the Island Race.

Last year’s race saw the first edition of the challenge with charity ambassadors including Phoenix night’s comedian Dave Spikey joining the sail to help raise over £11,000. This year will be no different as former European and Commonwealth 400m champion Iwan Thomas will fly the flag for Macmillan. Prostate UK will have 18 year old sailor Mike Perham as their skipper, last year he famously entered the record books by becoming the youngest person ever to sail around the world. Whilst Dame Ellen MacArthur will support her crew on the water aboard another Ellen MacArthur Trust boat.

The remaining crew positions for Prostate UK, The Ellen MacArthur Trust, Breast Cancer Care and Macmillan will contain people who are involved with or have benefitted from their specific charity. It will be an emotional day with many of the participants admitting that being able to give something back to the charity that has done so much to help them and their families, whilst taking part in such an iconic event is going to be an incredible experience.

The prize at the end is the right to claim the 2010 SailTime Charity Challenge Trophy which will be presented after the race to the winning charity team by triple Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie. The annual J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race, organised by the Island Sailing Club, is a one-day yacht race around the Isle of Wight. The race regularly attracts over 1,700 boats and around 16,000 sailors, making it one of the largest yacht races in the world and the fourth largest participation sporting event in the UK after the London Marathon and the Great North and South Runs. The race is a great opportunity to watch world-renowned sailors racing on an equal basis alongside families and first timers.

Selected Charity Crew Stories

The Ellen MacArthur Trust boat taking part in the Challenge will have a crew made up of the family and friends of young people who have previously sailed with the Trust. One of the crew will be Emma Stokes, from Stevenage, she has experienced first-hand the impact the Ellen MacArthur Trust can have on the confidence of young people recovering from cancer and leukaemia when her 16-year-old sister Victoria suffered bone cancer.

Trust Challenge crew member Emma said: “It’s fantastic how the Trust made Victoria feel normal again. The young people can discuss what they've been through without feeling embarrassed and no-one will stare at their thin hair that hasn't fully grown back yet or ask difficult questions. They can just have a lot of fun. I’m so pleased to be able to give something back”

Dave Lee, from Scunthorpe, was diagnosed with advanced metastatic prostate cancer six years ago and he and wife Jacky are both part of the Prostate UK crew. Jacky said: “Dave will never be cured and his health goes up and down but we can’t dwell on what is happening to us. We can only help other people. We don’t get filled with trepidation about anything now and although neither of us are sailors we’re so excited about the race and can’t wait to do something new.”

North London mum Marcia Mercer has spent the past decade supporting women with breast cancer after being diagnosed with the disease when she was just 32. Looking ahead to joining the Breast Cancer Care crew, she said: “There’s nothing like facing one’s fears, it will be a huge, huge learning curve and I’m quite petrified but also over the moon that I got a place on the boat. I’m sure any nerves will be overcome by my competitive spirit!”

Expert tips from Britain’s most successful Olympic sailor

A selection of the charity sailors, including Iwan Thomas, attended a sail training day with Ben Ainslie, Britain’s triple Olympic gold medalist sailor. Ben spent time with each charity crew giving them a few much needed tips ahead of the race itself.

Breast Cancer Care crew member, Dennise Sheppard, from Chester, who has battled breast cancer for the past 12 months, was over the moon with the sail training day “It was a great privilege to meet and sail with Ben. He was incredibly patient, a really nice person not to mention a great sailor. He showed us how much work is involved in crewing a yacht and the how communication on the day will be crucial. The race is now just around the corner and I can’t wait to represent Breast Cancer Care!”

Round the Island Race