Inspirational!

Welcome to this edition of Southern Cross Enews.

Well as predicted the school holidays are upon us and here at Southern Cross we are still recovering from the first weekend of the break. The reason for this is a birthday party we hosted for 8 thirteen year old boys last Saturday night. Yes it was ‘The Kings’ birthday sleepover and he gathered his court for the great event.

‘Sleepover’ has to be the most misleading term ever devised for a group of 13 year olds as actually sleeping was not on the agenda at all. To assist with their extended plan to ‘pull an all nighter’ was a secret stash of energy drinks I found hidden in the garage. This was consumed in a solemn ceremony, not unlike the roof top scene from the movie ‘The Hangover’ – with, I might add, similar results. All night boys were wandering around with their eyes spinning, fighting over the next song to be played, and drawing with a felt pen on the faces of anyone stupid enough to fall asleep. I prepared for this event by having a few mates around to help me keep order – we failed miserably I might add! After midnight just myself and good friend Adrian Finglas were left to stand watch over the mob – and Adrian amazed me with a truly inspirational story during that long night.

You see Adrian has just returned from Weymouth in the UK after coaching Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch to a gold medal in the Scud 18 class at the Para Olympics. Daniel’s story is one that we should all hear and think hard about when next some small thing in our lives is not to our liking!

Dan was a promising youth sailor when his life was changed for ever by an accident at a sailing event in Sydney when he was 19. Dan’s neck was broken leaving him a quadriplegic with only a small amount of movement in his upper arms and his neck. For most of us mere mortals this would have been the end but not for Dan who set himself a goal to win an Olympic gold medal and after 20 years of hard work and overcoming untold suffering achieved this a few weeks ago. The Scud 18 is an astounding boat. It looks like a mini offshore racing yacht and is incredibly high tech and with its mast head asymmetrical Spinnakers, is capable of hitting 20 knots downwind. Dan sits in a specially designed carbon fibre seat that can be cantered by using a mouth operated control. He steers with his limited arm movement with two joystick controls and has a screen in front of him displaying a camera view astern of him. As Dan cannot move his neck more than 80% this allows him to see what is going on behind him. And in Dan’s case that was watching the rest of the fleet behind him most of the time! His crew Liesl Tesch, herself a paraplegic does the string pulling allowing Dan to concentrate on helm and tactics. This combination worked so well in fact that they won the gold with a day to spare.

This has been a long road for both athletes – Dan coming so close in Beijing with a silver medal and this was Liesl’s 6th (yes 6th!) Para Olympics – she has previously won a silver and bronze representing Australia in wheel chair basketball. Quite an amazing athlete. Adrian told me of the great spirit and humour that these athletes compete with including the competitive spirit of the sailors and their work ethic that often surpasses their team mates in the ‘other games’. After hearing Dan’s story I have a new hero – Dan and Liesl are an inspiration to everyone. And even though he won’t take credit for it so is Adrian as their coach, friend and mentor. Unbelievable stuff!

Our next Essential Navigation and Seamanship Course will be held over the weekend of 13 & 14 October. This course is held over two days and is aimed at those with no previous navigation knowledge. It is ideal for power boaters and sailors and will give you the skills and confidence to get out on the water safely. We also have one place left on this weekend’s 3 day long weekend course and as this is the last of the Queen’s Birthday weekends for this year you better get in quick! This course can be combined with a weekend to complete Competent Crew or Day Skipper practical.

That’s all for this edition,

Until next time sail safe.

Regards

Mike Job.

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