Please select your home edition
MS Amlin 2019 - 728x90

Competing through adversity: We speak to the charity team winner of the MS Amlin Seamanship Award

by Mark Jardine 9 Oct 2018 12:00 BST
The Supporting Wounded Veterans team during the 2018 Round the Island Race © Ian Roman /

Sean Rose and his crew of ex-service personnel from the charity Supporting Wounded Veterans raced on Sunsail 4018 in The Round the Island Race 2018. This truly embodied the #RaceforAll ethos of the event. We spoke to Sean and crewmember Donna Baxter about what receiving the award meant to them, and the challenges of taking part.

The 2018 Round the Island Race had some of the lightest winds in its history, presenting a unique challenge for the crew as Sean described, "We tacked our way up to the Needles, taking the shifts and being as gentle as possible, finding that we were making way on a lot of boats. We seemed to be leaving the other Sunsail boats in our wake so were very happy!"

The team on Sean's boat were injured ex-service personnel, presenting some unique challenges, especially on a boat which isn't adapted for disabled sailing.

"Four of us on the crew were wounded in service; Donna Baxter had thirteen surgeries and has a double spine infusion and lives from day to day with chronic pain and fatigue - and I'm a wheelchair user, paralysed from the ribs down, so I had to move around the boat on my backside. We also had two sailors with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), so being in the confines of a small boat, living with each other for a week, was extremely challenging," explained Sean.

"We were really fortunate in that we had a great skipper and mate from Sunsail and a couple of sponsors on board who support the charity – a real mixed bag – but we all gelled really well and did what had to be done."

Simon Boulding, Events Director at Sunsail, nominated the team for the MS Amlin Seamanship Award, so we asked Donna what it meant to find out that the team had been chosen as the winner: "I didn't even know we were in the running for it, so it was a big surprise! Even though we all have physical or mental problems, we don't think about it and we just get on and do what we need to do on the boat – we forget about it and work as hard as we can, so the award is really great! I appreciate it!"

"It really did come out of the blue," said Sean. "Even when we read back what Simon said about it, we thought 'Who's he talking about?' We didn't really believe it was us!"

While there are now a range of accessible boats out on the water, the Sunsail F40 isn't modified for handicapped sailing, so Sean and the team had to work around some issues: "You need to be prepared to get down and dirty with it and throw yourself around it. I've a fairly strong upper body, being a wheelchair user, so I just made it happen. Getting downstairs with the steps was challenging, but for the love of it, and being back on a boat for the first time in 19 years, I just wanted to make it happen, so it was worth every hardship and was awesome."

For the ex-service personnel with PTSD, the training and event was challenging. "PTSD is a really difficult condition, an illness that they face, and all sufferers have certain triggers that send them to a really dark place. We had to manage those triggers and we knew what we had to do in each instance. They needed some support, but being amongst like-minded service personnel, with lots of banter on the boat, meant we weren't feeling sorry for ourselves, and got on with it, which helped loads as it was like being back before their injuries, back in regular service life, which was really refreshing for a lot of us. Out of their houses and back in an environment where they loved to be, and we all gelled really well because of it."

Paul Knox-Johnston of MS Amlin, one of the judges in the competition, described why this was the stand-out entry in the competition, "The way it was presented to us and the back-stories that came in from the nominator at Sunsail made it the stand-out entry. In a year where there was potentially very little in the way of stories to come out of the Round the Island Race, due to the light winds, it was good to have this superb entry which grabbed all of our attention."

Donna Baxter was keen to compete in the race in 2019, "I'd really like to take part again as I really enjoyed sailing, so I'd definitely love to do it again."

Sean Rose is determined to return for the 2019 Round the Island Race, continuing the work of the Supporting Wounded Veterans charity, "We want to offer first-time and newbie sailors the opportunity to experience what sailing is like. We definitely have spaces and I'm sure 2018 competitors like Donna will be in the running."

Listening to the story of Sean and his team taking part truly demonstrates how sailing can bring any team together and offer so many positive benefits. A truly worthy winner of the MS Amlin Seamanship Award and we look forward to following their story and watching them compete again in the Round the Island Race on Saturday 29th June 2019.

Find out more...

Related Articles

MS Amlin Yacht support Round the Island Race
Continuing their sponsorship of the race in 2019 MS Amlin Yacht the boat insurance specialists are delighted to announce their continued partnership with The Round the Island Race in 2019. Posted on 8 Feb
MS Amlin Seamanship Award 2018
Presented to the race crew of Sunsail 4018 Four ex-service personnel, from charity "Supporting Wounded Veterans", raced on Sunsail 4018 in The Round the Island Race 2018, overcoming significant challenges and achieving a great finish position. Posted on 20 Sep 2018
MS Amlin Life on the Water Photography Competition
Presentation by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston at The Southampton Boat Show MS Amlin's brand ambassador, Sir Robin Knox Johnston, unveiled the winner of the MS Amlin "Life on the Water" photography competition 2018 during a winners' reception at the Southampton Boat Show. Posted on 19 Sep 2018
Round the Island Race MS Amin Seamanship Award
Get your nominations in! There is still time to nominate someone for the MS Amlin Outstanding Seamanship Award in the 2018 Round the Island Race. Posted on 28 Aug 2018
MS Amlin launches new client loyalty benefits
It is about more than just insurance MS Amlin Yacht, one of the UK's specialist boat insurers, has introduced a new client loyalty scheme. The scheme rewards existing MS Amlin customers, who have been claims free for 1 year or more and have continuously renewed their boat insurance policy. Posted on 27 Jul 2018
MS Amlin partners with Round the Island Race
Team of three yachts have a tidal and tactical contest The MS Amlin UK Yacht Team moved into Cowes, Isle of Wight for this year's Round the Island Race in association with Cloudy Bay, organised by the Island Sailing Club on Saturday, 7th July. Posted on 18 Jul 2018
The family man with the family connection
We speak to Paul Knox-Johnston, Business Development Manager at MS Amlin We speak to Paul Knox-Johnston, Business Development Manager at MS Amlin about sailing, cycling, business and ideas to increase participation in sailing. Posted on 27 Feb 2018
MS Amlin Awards 2017 Seamanship Trophy
At Southampton Boat Show 2017 MS Amlin, continuing 17 consecutive years as race partners of The Round The Island Race in 2018, will be presenting the 2017 Seamanship Award on their stand at this year's Southampton Boat Show. Posted on 7 Sep 2017
MS Amlin partner Round the Island Race 2017
Supporting the race for the 15th consecutive year MS Amlin Yacht continues its support of the Round the Island Race as a Race Partner, for the 15th consecutive year in the role of Marine Insurance Partner. Posted on 14 Jun 2017