On Saturday 26 October, weather permitting, 46-year-old Richard will be unfurling the sails on Haskapa, a 6.5 metre mini transatlantic class yacht, and embarking on his ocean crossing with a difference. He’ll navigate through the Strait, sail south to follow the western coastline of Morocco and the Sahara, and then meet the Tropic of Cancer at 23 degrees north. This famous line of latitude will then dictate his course for 4,000 miles, before reaching Fort Lauderdale around a month later.
Richard explains, “This is a challenge for charity, Tropic4Cancer, and challenges by definition are not supposed to be easy. By adding the self-imposed requirement of sailing only at 23 degrees north, I have removed the opportunity to navigate around adverse weather conditions. Likewise I’ll be unable to switch course to benefit from changes in wind direction and strength. At least I have prevailing winds on my side, this time of year they blow east to west, although tropical storms aren’t unheard of either. But truthfully my biggest fear is large marine life. Previously I have nearly been on the wrong end of an amorous Sei Whale and I really don't like sharks either.”
Richard chose Gibraltar’s Marina Bay as a starting point as he wanted to set off from mainland. When he rowed the Atlantic with his wife in 2005/2006 (yes, he’s no stranger to adventure, Richard’s also climbed Kilimanjaro, skippered yachts in the Fastnet, cycled the route of the 2009 Tour de France and the 720km Raid Pyrenée – raising plenty of money for charity along the way) the route was island to island, La Gomera to Antigua. Gibraltar makes much more sense logistically, not least because Haskapa could be delivered by lorry from Poole all the way to southern Spain.
“I’ve also never been to Gibraltar (http://www.oceanvillage.gi/
Dwarfed by superyachts in Marina Bay, Haskapa is rigged and ready and to go. She has been checked, and double-checked, to ensure everything is working and survival essentials from food to flares have been loaded onboard for the 28 day plus journey. Now all that remains is for the weather to ‘play ball’ for Saturday’s departure. The forecast is for light but favourable winds but Gibraltar is notorious for tricky weather systems – Richard must pick his weather window carefully.
Tropic4Cancer aims to raise £40,000 to be split equally between two great causes - Sobell House Hospice in Oxford (www.sobellhospicecharity.org.uk) and Sail 4 Cancer (www.sail4cancer.org)
Richard’s mother spent her last few weeks in the care of Sobell House, passing away exactly two years ago on 26 October 2011. The loving environment offered by the Hospice, was amazing and Richard has always felt the need to give something back. Sobell House looks after around 3,000 patients every year, offering support both on-site and in people’s homes.
Sail 4 Cancer gives respite to cancer sufferers, their families and young carers through days out on the water and sailing holidays. From the moment you are diagnosed with cancer your life is taken over by hospital visits, treatments, tests, uncertainty, and often, financial worries. For a day or a few weeks, Sail 4 Cancer takes these cares away. The charity was set up in 2001 by a group of keen sailors who had all lost a close friend or relative to cancer. Richard has been involved in fundraising for Sail 4 Cancer since 2003.
To offer your support to Richard visit www.tropic4cancer.com and for donations www.sail4cancer.org/