Saturday, 25 June 2011

Round the Island Race : Toe in the Water Salutes Armed Forces Day

by Camilla Green

The 2011 JP Morgan Round the Island Race is extra special this year as not only is it the 80th edition of the classic sailing race but it also coincides with the UK’s Armed Forces Day - giving the Nation an opportunity to show its support for the contribution made to our country by those who serve or have served in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces.

Tri-service charity TOE IN THE WATER will be competing on the Artemis Ocean Racing IMOCA 60, generously loaned by Artemis Investment Management. The yacht will be skippered by record breaking round the world yachtswoman, Dee Caffari MBE. Dee will be joined by a number of servicemen including four who were injured whilst on operations in Afghanistan or Iraq, as well as WO2 Lloyd Hamilton, Toe in the Water’s Racing Director, who was recently awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for his work both the charity and during his latest tour of Afghanistan.

WO2 Hamilton is still serving with the Royal Engineers and in spite of three tours in the last two years, he has been volunteering with Toe in the Water since it started in July 2008, originally coming onboard to help coach the able-bodied volunteer crew. However, his commitment to the cause and what could be achieved through competitive sailing as a rehabilitation tool soon drove him to take on the role as Racing Director.

On receipt of his award, Lloyd said, “I was absolutely overwhelmed to hear I would be receiving an MBE. I truly believe it’s down to all the volunteers involved, their hard work and dedication and the way in which TOE IN THE WATER re-inspires the injured servicemen who are referred to us to see beyond their injuries.

“It’s an enormous privilege having served on operations with many of these guys to share with them my passion for the sport of sailing. It’s demanding, exhausting but above all else it’s about the guys adapting to the challenge and not the challenge adapting to them. Racing with the likes of Dee Caffari on a high performance yacht like Artemis Ocean Racing is a fantastic way to do this and especially on a day that’s dedicated to showing our support for our troops, those who we serve alongside as well as those who are no longer with us.”

Dee Caffari MBE, who recently completed her fourth circumnavigation whilst competing in the Barcelona World Race is an ambassador for the charity and regularly joins the TOE IN THE WATER crews at a variety of regattas.

Dee said, “I am thrilled to be sailing once again with Lloyd Hamilton and the guys from TOE IN THE WATER. Although this will be my first time onboard Artemis Ocean Racing, I know that being in such a competitive environment will push us all to achieve a good result. Lloyd is a soldier first and foremost, but he is also a great sailor and I have seen firsthand his genuine passion for the sport, his enthusiasm for racing and commitment to those injured military personnel on whom he makes such a huge impact through his work on and off the water.”

The injured servicemen include Sapper Billy Golbourn (Royal Engineers), Captain Martin Hewitt (Parachute Regiment) and Lieutenant Pete Hayward (1 Royal Welsh Fusiliers) “It is brilliant being able to compete on the same playing field as able-bodied sailors - and beat them. On the boat we're not treated any different - there's no sympathy or fuss and that's really what we want. It makes the buzz as we cross the finish line in front of all these good sailors even better," said Goldbourn, who first raced with TOE IN THE WATER during Cowes Week 2009.

Capt Martin Hewitt was one of the very first injured servicemen to be referred to TOE IN THE WATER in 2008. Since racing with the charity he has gone on to ski with the British Adaptive Ski Team and most recently was one of the four injured servicemen to walk to the North Pole with HRH Prince Harry as part of the ‘Walking with the Wounded’ project. Both TOE IN THE WATER and the Walking with the Wounded project are proudly supported by Artemis Investment Management, one of the UK’s leading investment management companies.

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.

Dee Caffari
Toe in the Water
JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race