Wounded Veterans take on Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

Tuesday 5 December 2017

A UK crew of wounded Veterans will race the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 GAME ON yacht in the 2017 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

The yacht will race alongside Australians crewing Invictus Games Sydney 2018 DOWN UNDER in what’s tipped to be an ‘Ashes on the Water’. The UK crew are supported by Help for Heroes with our partners, Turn to Starboard.

The fourth Invictus Games will be held ‘Down Under’ in Sydney, during which the sport of sailing will debut on the competition schedule. The UK Veterans taking part will not necessarily be part of the UK Team for the 2018 Invictus Games. Selection will take place next May.

Catherine Ruddick previously served with the Royal Army Medical Corps before she was medically discharged in July this year, suffering with PTSD and depression.

She explained: “I am taking part in this challenge because it is an iconic race and something I have dreamed of doing since taking up sailing 15 years ago. Importantly for me it is with a H4H crew who I feel comfortable discussing my illness with and therefore feel well supported.

"This will also be an opportunity to push myself and hopefully conquer some anxiety I developed after a double-handed sailing accident six years ago. It will be a fantastic opportunity to meet other sailors and be inspired to do more on the water in the future. I will be extremely proud of myself and the crew for both starting and completing the race and hope we do well and enjoy it."

Ashley Bowes, who served with the Royal Logistic Corps and suffers from PTSD, is taking part after completing the Round Britain Challenge with Turn to Starboard earlier this year.

“I’m hooked on sailing for life now,” he said. “Sydney Hobart is notoriously difficult and challenging. When I am on the water, the true me comes out. I feel no pain and there are no devils out on the oceans. It is a truly magical place to be.”

Martin Colclough, Head of Sports Recovery at Help for Heroes, said: “At Help for Heroes we want to empower our Veterans to regain their purpose despite life-changing injuries or illnesses, so we were delighted to be able to support this initiative. We are driven by the belief that those who put their lives on the line for us deserve a second chance at life, and taking part in an event such as the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will enable our Veterans to find a new direction to focus on while inspiring the nation.”

Intensive training is being provided for all crew by Clipper Ventures, the organisers of the biennial Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, as they prepare for the race start on 26 December.

Clipper Ventures Founder and legendary sailor, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo, non-stop around the world almost 50 years ago, met the UK Veterans at their training in Gosport. He will join the crew as their on-board navigator.

“I have huge respect for our Veterans for dedicating their lives to the protection of others, so feel very proud to be joining the UK Team in their challenge, and of course I’m also looking forward to helping them get an edge on our Australian competition!”

Invictus Games Sydney 2018 Chief Operating Officer, Ben Rahilly, said: “Taking part in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is an exciting platform to showcase the healing power of sport as we build towards the Games in October 2018."

"Sailing is a fantastic team sport creating amazing camaraderie both on and off the water creating the opportunity for veterans to be active and to connect. We hope the wider Invictus Games family will take this opportunity to cheer on our crews as they take on this iconic blue water classic.”

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