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Stoneways Marine 2021 - LEADERBOARD

Wetwheels to offer crews' less able family members a chance to watch the Rolex Fastnet Race set off

by Wetwheels Foundation 2 Aug 10:11 BST 8 August 2021
Wetwheels Hamble and Wetwheels Solent have two catamaran powerboats specially adapted to provide barrier-free boating for people of all ages and disabilities © Wetwheels

On Sunday 8th August, Wetwheels is delighted to offer the opportunity for Rolex Fastnet Race crews' less able family members to watch the start of what is known as the world's biggest offshore race.

Wetwheels Hamble and Wetwheels Solent have two catamaran powerboats specially adapted to provide barrier-free boating for people of all ages and disabilities. Each boat can take up to 10 people, including three wheelchairs, providing 20 spaces in total to watch the start in Cowes.

The two boats will take in the preparations for the start, including the parade of sail around each of the official 'gate boats', locate family members on board the race boats and wave 'Good Luck', then will hold station to watch each of the seven starts before chasing the fleet as they depart to the west. Expect to be on the water for 3-4 hours with pit stops possible in Cowes or maybe Yarmouth before returning to dock as the race fleet finally disappears from sight.

"We help disabled people of all ages, their families and carers - everyone benefits from a Wetwheels trip as disabilities are left on the shore and the fun and laughter begins. The organisers of the Rolex Fastnet Race, the Royal Ocean Racing Club, have donated the charter fee for the boats to give crews' families an inclusive chance to experience the passion and excitement of yacht racing at its best," comments Jennie Austin, Director, Wetwheels Hamble CIC.

Wetwheels Hamble will be hosted by Marie-Claude Heys. Marie-Claude is the epitome of the phrase 'follow your dreams'. Her passion for sailing, coupled with incredible tenacity, determination and self-belief, resulted in more than 20 years of competitive racing, culminating in crewing for two Whitbread Round the World races. Marie-Claude is a regular volunteer for Wetwheels Hamble.

The Hamble boat will be leaving from Mercury Marina, Satchell Lane, Hamble SO31 4HQ where you will also find plentiful parking and disabled toilets.

Wetwheels Solent, will hosted by Geoff Holt MBE DL. Geoff was paralysed in a swimming accident in 1984 and uses a wheelchair. In 1995 he became the inaugural Chairman of RYA Sailability, he also became the first disabled person to sail single-handed around Great Britain (2007) and sailed across the Atlantic Ocean unassisted (2009). He was awarded an MBE for "Services to Disabled Sailing" in 2010 and named 'YJA Yachtsman of the Year' shortly after and was made a Deputy Lieutenant of Hampshire in 2012, as well as a Vice President of the RNLI. He is also a patron and ambassador for several charities for people with disabilities.

The Solent boat will be leaving from her base at Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth, PO1 3TZ, which has Changing Places toilets.

Wetwheels offers a unique opportunity for disabled and disadvantaged people of all ages. We support those with the most profound and complex disabilities to do something no one expected they could and we build mental well-being, confidence and life affirmation for all including those whose disabilities aren't always visible.

Wetwheels is an inspiring organisation where perceived barriers are reassessed, new skills are learned and new-found independence is discovered. Participants are able to have a single experience or return over time to develop new skills.

If you have someone that would be interested, please get them to register for a space here.

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