Sailors with disABILITIES

What is the Sydney to Sydney Challenge? ©Sailors with disABILITIES

The Sydney to Sydney Challenge was a world-first adventure that saw Sailors with disABILITIES attempt to set a world record for the Sydney to Lord Howe Island passage with a crew of 10 in a mono-hull yacht, the TP-52 WOT EVA.

The crew set out to set the fastest time possible for the full Sydney to Sydney passage, passing an official and manned marker at Lord Howe Island, and passing a finishing line on Sydney Harbour, where the WSSRC time keeper stopped the clock. We are pleased to announce that we have, in fact, been officially recognised as setting a world record by the World Sailing Speed Record Council. Click to see our official record here, scroll down to No. 51. The official record is:

51. Sydney to Sydney via Lord Howe Island and Balls Pyramid.

David Pescud and 9 crew with diaABILITIES. AUS
"Woteva" 52 ft Monohull.
22nd to the 26th October 2015.
4 days 2 hours 31 minutes and 16 seconds.
816 NM. 8.18 kts

Our yacht, WOT EVA, was sailed by a crew of 10, the majority of whom are disabled. Scroll down to read their profiles.

Video of Sydney to Sydney Challenge

Search the hashtags #HoweFast or #Sydney2Sydney to look back on the journey.

Scroll down to meet our crew.

You can click here to watch--live-- the crew's passage to Lord Howe Island: 

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The Course: Sydney heads to the gate at Lord Howe Island, around Lord Howe Island and Balls Pyramid, and back to Sydney.

Officially: The official world record attempt was recorded by the World Sailing Speed Record Council for a mono-hull yacht attempting the Sydney to Lord Howe Island passage and return.

Why the Sydney to Sydney Challenge? 

Because this has never been done before. Because we could. And because we wanted to show that people with disability can participate and thrive in a world-record breaking attempt across the Tasman.

“People who’ve had adversity in their life have a natural tenacity; they’re streets ahead in mental and physical toughness,” said George Johnstone from Sailors with disABILITIES. “And they’re flexible and adaptable. A physically challenging day for a guy with no legs is another day, whereas a rough day when the ocean suddenly turns bad for a guy used to rolling out of bed and everything working for him can be a shocker. People with disability, in our experience, not only roll with extreme and physically challenging ocean conditions, but adapt to the challenges as they do in everyday life.”

Woteva TP52With 18 Sydney-to-Hobarts under our belt and the 2003 World Record for fastest non-stop circumnavigation of Australia by a mono-hull yacht—all crewed with people with disability—we knew that people with disability were more than capable of attempting and setting another record.

How?

On board WOT EVA, our TP52 racing yacht (donated by WOTIF.com founder Graeme Wood), our time was recorded out of Sydney heads by the WSSRC. A finish line was set up and manned by the official time keeper on Lord Howe Island. 

After passing through the gate at the island, SWD returned to Sydney, 4 days 2 hours 31 minutes and 16 seconds after leaving.

 

We wish to thank Crewsaver for their generous donation of dozens of personal floatation devices that enabled our crew and youth program participants to stay safe, whether attempting to set a world record or working with children with disabilities on the eastern seaboard of Australia.

Thank you, too, to Xylem and all our sponsors who make SWDs programs possible.

Meet our crew

Albert Lee: Double Amputee

Nickname: Bertie or Bert

Lives: Sydney

Likes: Sitting volleyball, fitness, adventures

Joined SWD: 1994

Position on Yacht: Mid bow – assist the bowman

Age: 53

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Al Grundy: Polio

Nickname: Al or Grunge

Lives: Bulli

Likes: Keeping his 1947 Harley motorbike going, gardening

Joined SWD: 1994

Position on Yacht: Mast

Age: 62

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David Pescud: Dyslexia

David Pescud SWD 1

Nickname: Pesky

Lives: Sydney

Likes: Lives for promoting disabled people and sailing, gardening

Founded SWD: 1994

Position on Yacht: Skipper

Age: 68

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Brett Whiteley: Amputee

Brett Whiteley 5

Nickname: brettly, brettles

Lives: Sydney

Likes: chocolate, music production

Joined SWD: 2014

Position on Yacht: trim 1

Age: 45

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Tony Purkiss: Blindness

Tony Purkis 5

Nickname: Biggles

Lives: Central Coast

Likes: Sailing - cruising as well as racing, Tasmania

Joined SWD: 2007

Position on Yacht: Mast

Age: 55

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Kristi Foster: Arachnoiditis which is similar to MS but, instead of in the brain, it affects the spine.

Nickname: Krissie

Lives: Coffs Harbour

Likes: Reading, painting and craft

Joined SWD: 2014

Position on Yacht: Strings/Media

Age: 41

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Josh Thatcher: Dyslexia

 Josh Thatcher 2

Nickname: Joshie

Lives: Sydney

Likes: Yacht racing

Joined SWD: 2006

Position on Yacht: Main Sail Trim

Age: 45

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Mark Thompson: Able-bodied

Nickname: Marky Mark

Lives: Central Coast

Likes: Staying fit

Joined SWD: 2001

Position on Yacht: Foredeck, watch captain and helm

Age: 47

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George Johnstone: Able-bodied

Nickname: George

Lives: Central Coast

Likes: Sailing

Joined SWD: 2004

Position on Yacht:  Second in Command

Age: 48

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Francisco Orozco: Able-bodied

Francisco Orozco 3

Nickname: Frankie

Lives: Sydney

Likes: Horses, sea, reading, my job, helping others.

Joined SWD: 2015

Position on Yacht: bow

Age: 35

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