For those that don’t know, Ocean Crusaders was founded when I sailed solo around Australia to break the world record back in 2010. We come from a sailing background and as we approach our 10th anniversary, we decided it was time to go back to the waters. There are many reasons we decided to do this. This year is the 75th Anniversary of the Rolex Sydney to Hobart so it would attract a larger than normal fleet, hence more coverage for our message. Another driving factor is that through the years I have been running this campaign, the amount of sailing, something I love dearly, has dwindled away to almost nothing. I’ve spent more time cleaning the oceans than enjoying it. So I wanted to do something for Annika and I, but still wanted to do something for the environment. The bucket list tick of doing a Hobart was another factor, not for me, but for Annika and a few of our friends who have supported us along the way, I wanted to give them that. The the final piece of the puzzle was last years amazing effort by Stacey Jackson who put together Ocean Respect Racing. As part of the program we got a grant and in a way I wanted to give back. When I heard they weren’t going again this year, well we needed to keep the message going.
So many factors came into it. But we don’t just do things for us, we needed to put a program together that showcased exactly what we do. We are Australia’s Waterway Cleaning Team. We aren’t all about talking, we actually go and do the hard yakka, so we came up with the concept of cleaning at each end, hence the Sydney to Hobart Clean Up. In an ideal world we would love to own our own yacht and do it ourselves but we have invested all of our funds into equipment to clean at the scale we do. Hence a decision to join forces with long time mates, the Warlow’s, came about. They had a boat and wanted to race but didn’t have the funding to get the boat up to the top level of safety that is needed for the race.
So we decided to use our campaign to seek sponsors for the equipment and also to help pay the other costs. We didn’t want the funds for this campaign to come out of our sausage sizzles money or other donations as we need that to keep cleaning, we wanted the marine industry to give back. We wanted to cover the costs of the 2 clean ups and the race involvement. Thankfully we have had the support of a few keen businesses and the Warlow’s. John & Laura have committed a fair bit financially themselves to make this happen and we are forever grateful that they have allowed us to rename the boat Ocean Crusaders Dodge Ball for the race. John has been going through the boat meticulously to ensure it is ready. The rig has come out and been fully inspected by David Lambourne Rigging. The engine has been serviced, batteries replaced and a new HF radio installed. The installation of the HF Radio was completed by Electech who are based at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron. They responded so quickly it was amazing as we had a time line to get the safety gear in order.
Then came the other list of equipment. We needed PFD’s for the crew so Spinlock Australia came to the party with new Vito PFD’s. These are used in the Ocean Race (Formerly Volvo Ocean Race) and Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. Having tried them on, they are the most comfortable PFD you will ever wear which means you will wear it more often and safety does come first. We needed navigation programs and long time sponsor Timezero upgraded our software and charts free of charge. Then there is satellite communications and for this we went back to PredictWind who supplied us an Iridium Go and full subscription so we can download our weather whilst racing. The Satellite Phone component means you use the iridium go with your normal handset. It is a really cool way to operate. Being a race crew you need to look like a team so Musto Australia came to the party and provided us shirts and hats which Moolledooka Screen Printing in Coolum are going to make look amazing.
But then for a campaign like this you need some funds to cover insurances and entry fees, food etc. Shortly we will announce a very special program with Sunsail which I know will be the most amazing adventure for our followers. But they have also provided sponsorship for our campaign to help cover these costs. They have been amazing supporters in the past and provided a chase boat when we initially did our very first Paddle Against Plastic back in 2010 when 3 of us paddled from Airlie Beach to Mackay via Hamilton Island.
And the final ingredient is you need to be able to give these sponsors and our message coverage and that is where MySailing.com.au and the Yaffa Publishing Group came to the party. They have not only run articles for us, they have even sent an email to the entire industry seeking help for our campaign.
So this summer, whilst it is too hot to be playing in mangroves pulling tonnes of debris we will be campaigning in Sydney and Hobart, along with pushing competitors in the race to go as single use plastic free as possible. You can find out more about our campaign at www.OceanCrusaders.org/S2H and can follow us in the race on Boxing Day and then the tracker after the start. Our boat isn’t the fastest, far from it, but we will hopefully do well in our division on handicap, but at the end of the day, it’s about making it to Hobart, that is the primary goal of the sailing campaign, whilst our message will be told in any media we receive. We need to respect our oceans and stop using single use plastics.