Please select your home edition
Edition
Wessex Resins 2019 - Pro-Set - 728x90
Product Feature
Trident Compass Front Zip Sailing Drysuit
Trident Compass Front Zip Sailing Drysuit

Yacht crewed by autistic sailors finalises team for Rolex Fastnet race

by Phil Harland 31 May 10:30 BST
Ausome Charity takes on the Fastnet © Paul Wood

Ausome, a registered charity promoting the personal and social growth of individuals of all ages who have Autism Spectrum Conditions through an exciting programme of sailing, has secured two new sponsorship deals, one from Barton Marine, a world leader in marine blocks and equipment, and the other from Essex Embroidery for Ausome branded crew kit, as it finalises the team for the 608 nautical miles Rolex Fastnet race challenge.

Last year, the charity Ausome embarked on the epic challenge of giving a crew of nine autistic people the opportunity to take part in the 2019 Rolex Fastnet race, generally considered one of the world's classic offshore races, thoroughly testing the skills of crew and boat. With the generous loan of a Nautor Swan 431 yacht by its owner Miles Delap, Ausome set about raising the funds needed to take part in the event. Following initial donations and grants from the East Anglian Offshore Racing Association (EAORA), Forensic Healthcare Services, and the Royal Southern Yacht Club Trust, Ausome has now received a further boost from Barton Marine, which will supply the yacht with a complement of its world-leading blocks. In addition, Essex Embroidery & Print will provide the crew with a selection of Ausome branded team clothing.

For 80 years, Barton Marine has been designing and manufacturing world-class blocks from its factory in Southeast England and Suzanne Blaustone, Managing Director of Barton Marine, commented: "We are very proud to support the Ausome Team in undertaking this challenge and giving a crew of autistic people such a once in a lifetime opportunity."

The crew selection is well under way ready for the initial qualifying races and comprises of both experienced yacht sailors and relative novices. The only criteria for those applying was that they had to be on the autistic spectrum. One of the crew selected, Georgina Blair, remarked: "I love being out on the ocean, but most of my experience on small boats has been in the Norfolk Broads and the Fastnet race has always seemed like a Formula One Grand Prix - not for the likes of me. To have the chance to take part in the race, as part of a neurodiverse crew, is an amazing opportunity. I am expecting the race to be a great adventure, which will challenge me both socially and physically, and I am also expecting to learn a lot about sailing a yacht."

Another crew member, Seth Kneller, added: "I applied for the Fastnet sailing opportunity because I have wanted to sail for a long time but never had the opportunities to learn. My autism makes it difficult to make the social connections that would help most people to get involved in the sport. When I saw that Lottie was putting together an autistic sailing crew, I jumped at the chance to be part of it. I look forward to learning more about yachts and sailing, making new friends and being part of a team." And the most recent person to be selected, Jack Britton remarked: "As I am on the autistic spectrum, I want to try all my abilities to show people what I'm made of. I am proud to have been offered a place on the Fastnet crew and I'm hoping to gain more sailing experience, make new friends, work in a team and see more of the world. Looking forward to set sail to achieve my goals."

The founder and a trustee of Ausome, Lottie Harland, who is herself autistic and 22 years of age, will skipper the yacht Ausome-Lyra of London. She is enthusiastic about the support her team is receiving: "After a difficult childhood of being bullied through school for being 'different' it was sailing that built my confidence and self-esteem and helped me to develop the life and social skills to become an independent and successful young adult. I am incredibly grateful to all the organisations and individuals that recognise the huge difficulties autistic people face in making their way in the world and who are helping us so generously to give this crew a chance to show what they can achieve. I know each of our team will take something different away from the challenge and we will do all we can to support them in reaching their own personal goals."

The team's first qualifying race in preparation for the Fastnet will be the 185 nautical miles RORC North Sea Race between Harwich and Scheveningen, Netherlands, which starts on Friday 31st May.

Donations can be made to the Ausome Fastnet campaign through: uk.virginmoneygiving.com/LottieHarland

Related Articles

Pip Hare defies the odds in Fastnet Race
20-year-old boat should have been towards the back, not leading On paper, Poole-based round-the-world sailor Pip Hare's 20-year-old boat should have been towards the back of her class, but instead she led the westbound charge from Start Point to the Scillies. Posted on 15 Aug
Bomby & Diamond clinch podium Fastnet position
Campaigning the new Sun Fast 3300 from Jeanneau With the completion of the 2019 Rolex Fastnet Race and podium positions decided, the mixed double handed crew of Henry Bomby and Hannah Diamond received the confirmation of their IRC 3A win along with first mixed doublehanded crew. Posted on 15 Aug
Rolex Fastnet Race family dynasty
Watch Hattie Rogers' video from onboard Assent Watch Hattie Rogers' fantastic video from Assent in the Rolex Fastnet Race - the smallest boat in the fleet. Sailing with her father Simon, uncle Kit and cousin Jonah, the are aboard their 'museum piece' 1972 Contessa 32. Posted on 12 Aug
2019 Rolex Fastnet Race finish by Nic Douglass
All of the Fastnet adventures For the first time in my life I am now in Cowes for Cowes Week after the finishes of the Rolex Fastnet Race in Plymouth, and according to those much more "experienced" than myself, this is definitely an anomaly. Posted on 10 Aug
2019 Rolex Fastnet Race overall
Burnishing the legend The Rolex Fastnet Race is one of sailing's ultimate challenges: a racecourse that has achieved mythic status, a turning mark that is a true icon in sport and a near 100-years of history and tradition. Posted on 9 Aug
US Rolex Fastnet Race winner
Breaking the French winning streak An American VO70 has continued its phenomenal winning streak to claim the Fastnet Challenge Cup, the overall prize for the 2019 Rolex Fastnet Race. Posted on 7 Aug
2019 Rolex Fastnet Race day 5
Léon surfs to victory in IRC Three One hundred and seventy one teams in the Rolex Fastnet Race were taking part in IRC Three and IRC Four, close to half of the record-breaking fleet. For these smaller/slower boats endurance is key as they spend four days or more days at sea. Posted on 7 Aug
2019 Rolex Fastnet Race day 4
Tough, inspiring and recognizable As the 48th Rolex Fastnet Race moves through its fourth day, the flood of arrivals continues. The window of opportunity for those pursuing overall victory is narrowing and, after four days, crews still at sea are beginning to tire. Posted on 6 Aug
2019 Rolex Fastnet Race day 3
Monohull fleet begins to arrive in Plymouth For the second consecutive race, George David and the crew of the 27-metre (88-foot) Maxi yacht Rambler have secured the Line Honours trophy in the Rolex Fastnet Race, missing out on the race record by one hour, 16 minutes. Posted on 6 Aug
Rolex Fastnet Race: Big boat race on the cards
The quantity of boats arriving in Plymouth has been steadily increasing Overnight some of the hottest boats in IRC Zero reached Plymouth and it is these which are looking like they may be main contenders in their own class, and also for the main prize overall this year. Posted on 6 Aug