UK wounded, injured and sick Veterans have spoken of their pride and sense of achievement at completing the 2017 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
Dan Fielding, a former Royal Marine, was immensely proud of his team.
“Everyone has taken so much from this trip,” he said. “Most of us have taken more out of the last three days than we’ve taken from the last three years.
“We’ve bonded as a team and we worked hard at every revolution. There’s a lot of revolutions over a race like this, but we worked for each other, snatching sleep here and there and working the boat for the conditions.”
Crossing the finish line on Friday, shortly after 5pm local time, the UK crew, named GAME ON, was greeted by cheers and applause from enthusiastic spectators who had gathered at Constitution Dock to congratulate the sailors on their achievement.
“It was a really humbling experience for us, but it showed us what we’d actually done, we’ve done a massive ocean trip and it made us realise that,” said Dan.
“People were cheering and waving back, it was a spectacular feeling,” he said.
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 added: “There were hundreds of people cheering and clapping. We were giving other boats cheers and claps and they were congratulating us as well. It was a really lovely experience coming in, very special.
“Like a lot of Veterans, I’ve had a particularly tough year this year after leaving the Army, so to finish the year on such a high is incredible.
“I’ve been a sailor for two years and it’s been a dream to sail Sydney Hobart, but I never thought I’d manage it. To do it with other ex-military Veterans and other civilians, in a supportive environment where we all understand each other and understand where we’ve come from and the challenges and problems each other has, it’s been fantastic.”
Tipped as an ‘Ashes on the water’, the UK GAME ON crew battled against the Australian DOWN UNDER crew. Bragging honours were awarded to the UK crew who finished the race nearly 11 hours ahead of their Australian counterparts, with DOWN UNDER arriving at Hobart just before 4am on Saturday.
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 who took part will not necessarily be part of the UK Team for the 2018 Invictus Games. Selection will take place in May.