Former soldier, Andy Barlow GM (George Medal), who lost his leg in Afghanistan, will set off on the Round Britain and Ireland sailing race today.
Andy, who has been supported by the Help for Heroes Sports Recovery Programme, is the first disabled soldier to represent the British Army, along with seven others who are all part of the British Army Offshore Race Team.
Help for Heroes has supported Andy, who lives in Denmead, Hampshire, tirelessly throughout his Skiing career and recently were able to provide him with the opportunity to go to Sochi as part of the BPA’s Paralympic Inspiration Programme.
As an experienced sailor Andy has been selected above many fully able bodied soldiers and is the first disabled soldier to earn his place representing the Army in this tough and demanding race.
Andy said: “Sport has always been a huge part of my life and something that’s helped me massively on my recovery journey. To be on a small race yacht with seven people for 14 days under immense fatigue and constantly being wet through will be one of my biggest challenges to date.”
With a new Yacht British Soldier (a J111) and seven crew members on board; the yacht will be sailed by serving soldiers, who are both regular and reserve. The experienced crew, with Captain Phil Caswell taking control, are all looking forward to the tough challenge ahead.
The 1760 race runs clockwise round Britain and Ireland starting from Cowes, Isle of Wight. The motivation for the teams taking part may vary, but the ultimate aim is the same; to race well and to get round the course using the determination and tenacity this endurance race demands from competitors.
First Mate, Major Will Naylor, is also looking forward to the race: “I did this race 4 years ago, and it is the toughest sailing race I have done to date. We have a strong team this year and having Andy on board is superb. He is a very tough soldier with a great sense of humour. There is no place to hide on a race boat and Andy is one of the best sailors we have.”