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Race against time in the Foil for Life Challenge by Lemer Pax

by Mark Jardine 15 Aug 17:06 BST 14 August 2020

After a month of planning all was set for the six WASZP sailors on Friday 14th August to undertake the Foil for Life Challenge by Lemer Pax. Pierre Leboucher, Mael Garnier & Corentin Horeau from France alongside Hattie Rogers, Edward Higson & William Heathcote from the UK were set for the 108 nautical mile foiling marathon from Lymington to Le Havre, raising money for the National Health Service (NHS) and Assistance Publique Hôpitaux de Paris (APHP).

On the eve of the challenge, a potentially devastating announcement was made by the UK Government that all citizens entering the UK from France after 4am on Saturday 15th August would need to quarantine for 14 days - the challenge had become a race against time as well as one of endurance. At 5.30am on Friday, following a rapid change of logistics, the united and determined team made the final decision to go ahead and launched from the Royal Lymington Yacht Club slipway.

John Burnie, founder of the RORC Caribbean 600, saw the fleet off from the Lymington Starting Platform at 7.45am, sending messages in both English and French to the sailors. Thankfully no-one was over the line on such a long voyage - with a strong ebb tide pushing the everyone towards the Needle it would have taken a while to get back! Around fifteen boats saw them off in the Solent, with some even accompanying the WASZPs to ten miles south of the Needles. Shortly afterwards a Royal Navy T45 Destroyer also followed the team briefly!

Passing the Needles on the foil was one of the moments which will live long with the sailors. These are an iconic landmark in so many sailing challenges and James Tomlinson took some superb photos of the moment which capture the moment beautifully.

With the wind decreasing, the decision was made around half-way across the Channel to re-route to Port du Becquet, just to the East of Cherbourg. Alternative points of landfall had always been factored in so that the challenge could still be completed over a shorter distance if necessary.

On the face of it, the voyage could have been a dull ten-hour reach on one tack, but one of the beauties of sailing is that it's very rarely like that. A school of dolphins joined the WASZPs around 20 miles out from Cherbourg and an exhausted tiny bird landed on support boat driver Simon Rogers' head. The bird then fluttered between the RIBs and WASZPs, resting for long periods of time, then flying ashore once at dock.

The only breakage on a WASZP was a tiller extension universal joint failure, but Duncan Hepplewhite of SailingFast quickly swapped out a spare inside of 20 minutes. Duncan and French WASZP importer Manu Guedon struck up an instant friendship.

At 10.30pm CET the exhausted sailors made landfall in France. The Foil for Life Challenge by Lemer Pax was completed against all the odds.

As founder of the challenge Hattie Rogers said, "There was banter, laughter and camaraderie all the way! We knew it was going to be a long slog, but this rapidly became a sail that we'll remember for the rest of our lives. The French have already invited us to their WASZP Nationals in November and we're reciprocated the invite for the UK Nationals. We were planning our 2021 challenge before we'd made landfall in France - we can't wait to 'send it' again!"

Throughout the day hundreds of followers watched the YB Tracking at yb.tl/foilforlife and inquired for updates on Twitter via @FoilForLife. The French and British sailors were ecstatic to share this challenge in support of such worth causes in a time of such great uncertainty.

Over 40 volunteers have given their time, effort and resources to back the challenge. The team are immensely grateful to each and every one of these people without whom the Foil for Life Challenge by Lemer Pax simply wouldn't have been possible.

The support of Lemer Pax ensures that every single Euro and Pound will go to the organisations. Donations can be made via the www.foilforlife.com website, where you can find more information about the team of sailors. The team are stoked that almost £5,000 has been raised so far for the NHS, with a similar amount pledged to the APHP, and thank each and every one of the supporters for their time, effort and donations.

The team are immensely grateful to Lemer Pax for their title sponsorship of the challenge. A worldwide leader in innovation in the radiation protection sector, Lemer Pax creates, designs, and engineers efficient radiation protection solutions for healthcare, research, industry, and nuclear applications. With over 50 years of innovation, Lemer Pax exports all over the world, eco-aware and cutting edge of technology radiation protection products. The company strives for excellence to protect the most important thing: Life!

Find out more...

Website: www.foilforlife.com
Twitter: @FoilForLife

Foil for Life Challenge by Lemer Pax supporters

Title Sponsor
Lemer Pax

Silver Sponsor
The Delphie Lakeman Trust, Isle of Wight

Bronze Sponsors
Andrew McIrvine, WASZP, Royal Ocean Racing Club, Le Havre Yacht Club, Royal Lymington Yacht Club

Sponsors in kind
Ocean Safety, YB Tracking, Sailing Fast, Zhik, YachtsandYachting.com & Sail-World.com

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