Australian born Chinese Albert has no legs, but that doesn’t stop him being the fastest guy on the boat.
Using arms strengthened by international standard wheelchair racing, Albert can shoot through gaps in the boat that other able-bodied sailors have to crouch and clamber through. And with his low centre of gravity, he is never at risk of being ‘man overboard’.
Albert fell under a train in Sydney in 1983 and lost both legs above the knees. He was in his third year of studies at university. Despite the traumatic, life changing accident, he finished his studies, along with the same class with which he started, not needing to take any additional time to complete his degree.
Despite his injuries, he is one of the most competitive members of the team. No surprise then, to find out that he represented Australia in the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games in Sitting Volleyball. Albert has competed in Seated Waterskiing, Wheelchair Tennis and Basketball, Wheelchair Marathons, and Handcycling.
He is also part of the MWF crew that holds the record for the non-stop unassisted circumnavigation of Australia, and he has taken part in four previous Rolex Sydney to Hobart races.
Albert works in Sydney’s south as an optometrist. He regularly volunteers for community work in under-privileged regions. On one of his trips, he travelled to tsunami-ravaged Sri Lanka to provide spectacle corrections to people who had lost everything in the disaster. Albert also works in rural and remote communities providing eye-care and spectacles to Indigenous Australians.
Started Sailing at age five at McCrae Yacht Club on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. 'My father was a yachty and he built my first boat – a magnificent cedarply Northbridge Junior, before I could even swim or sail. I learnt to sail over many years at the McCrae YC sailing school until I outgrew the class. From there, I advanced to Flying Ants and competed in National and State Titles across Australia, and multiple Victorian and State sailing squads. I progressed to a skiff moth with my best result being 15th and 2nd Junior in the McCrae Nationals in 1992. I continued to sail mixed classes, such as Lightweight Sharpies and 14' skiffs, through the mid 90s "the uni years" until I was given an opportunity to sail my first keel boat, as trimmer onboard a 32 Swarbrick, at Sandringham YC.
I moved to Sydney a year later to work for Channel 7, land joined the CYCA. There, I sailed with some ex Victorians on Cutloose – an Adams 13; my first overnight offshore ride in the 97-98 Pittwater to Coffs race. I continued to sail offshore races in Victoria on the Cavalier 37, "Boots". Such races included the M2H and Melbourne to Stanley, finally completing the 2004 S2H on the same yacht with five of my fellow Flying Ant sailors "the ferals" and three mature crew affectionately known as "the Philistines".
I spent the last few years sailing in MHYC races and winning two annual point score series on the Holland 30 "Pinta" and joining the Mortgage Choice Rumba crew for the Sydney Southport and Coffs offshore series. I was caretaker of Wave Dancer for Rob McConchie and finished equal 1st points (2nd on countback) in the 2009 Audi Winter Series. Having made good contacts at CYCA in 2009, I was asked about helping out MWF on "the new ride" and a potential Hobart campaign. And what a ride it is! How could I resist? Sailing with the MWF team has been great, and it's been an amazing learning experience. I hope I can continue to contribute to this great cause and get some results with the team on the journey.
2012 is my third Hobart after competing in 2004, and retiring in 2010 on Wot Eva, with fuel tank failure.'
Bridget has been sailing for 36 years. 2012 was her 6th Hobart Race. Bridget has been involved on-and-off with MWF for many years.
Bridget also volunteers with the SES.
'I started sailing in 1991 by taking lessons on Sydney Harbour. Sailing has become a passion for me and I regularly sail on the harbour and I have also done a few miles up and down the east coast of Australia. I was fortunate in becoming involved with MWF in 1994 and spent the next seven years involved in the running of the organisation, and being a keen sailor. At the same time, I became a member of the CYCA and RANSA and continue to participate to this day. RANSA has become a special club for me where I regularly sail from and where I am an active volunteer. CYCA is where most of my offshore sailing has been undertaken. In 2009, I became involved with MWF once again and I am currently involved in helping with the 2013 MWF Rolex Sydney to Hobart Project.
I always had a passion for the water but started sailing about 7 years ago and have been part of MWF for 4 of them. Love the challenge and freedom of being out sailing and especially love to be doing this with some amazing inspirational people. Have enjoyed my experiences aboard Kayle and Wot Eva and I have learnt much about sailing and life since joining MWF not to mention forming great friendships.
Recently married and expecting our first baby in the coming months, I’m looking forward to the prospect of completing my first Hobart before life starts getting 'really busy'.
Like many people in the world of sailing, I have been messing around in boats since I was a child. Born in Sydney, I learnt to swim as a toddler in Watsons Bay so had a boating and water culture in the genes. As a child we moved to Adelaide following my father’s business career where Dad joined the Royal SA Yacht Squadron to go sailing and when I was old enough signed me up as a junior member.
I have an inherited disability, called CMT (Charcot Marie Toothe Syndrome) which is an inherited neuro-muscular condition affecting the legs and hands mainly, to varying degrees from person to person. In my case I have weaknesses in the calves and hands, but the legs are “wobbly” and my gait unnatural, to the extent that I was chucked out of a pub once because they thought I was drunk on the dance floor! A nephew of mine with the same condition was refused entry to a notable Sydney bar and had to threaten management with suing for discrimination in order to force entry. Ah the trials of being different in an ignorant society.
Anyway, as a kid my condition wasn’t so obvious but it was strange that athletics and cricket were not rewarding activities when you can’t run. Football wasn’t too bad given I was tall and could look after myself physically, but swimming yes, couldn’t understand why so many of my mates were scared of the water! Sailing at the Squadron was great and got my first boat when I was 10 or 11. An International Cadet class dinghy and soon I was winning these races. Went on to compete in States and Nationals, no great success but enough to love the sport and to know the potential of sailing as a sport where you could succeed in open competition despite being different.
Went on like most to performance dinghies like the 505 and then into keel boats. I sailed my first Sydney-Hobart in 1994, the same year as the first MWF entry. I was sailing at the top of offshore sailing in Adelaide with Geoff Boettcher (Secret Mens Business) but I was starting to follow the exploits of Making Waves Foundation from afar. There was a natural empathy for the cause.
I’m a medical radiographer by profession and specialise in radiation safety and education services. It was this that brought me to Sydney in 2000 to start up a consultancy. Through sailing and professional contacts I was introduced to David Pescud in person and MWF.
“They’re always looking for people with a disability who know what they’re doing on a boat!”. So I started doing the odd twilight race which then went to Saturdays and then back to offshore. In 2003 I did my first MWF Hobart Race. Despite trying to get away on our own boat, my wife and I are still involved 13 years later enjoying the sailing, mateship and long term friendships which have emerged through David and MWF together with the joy and rewards of giving so many kids and adults with a disability the potential to engage in a life without limits.
David Pescud, captain of the Sailors With disAbilities yacht, is an interesting guy. He's one part, Old Man Of The Sea, one part, blunt instrument. He's a man used to winning against the odds.
He can't read or write and left school at 15. Yet he retired a multi-millionaire in his early 40s to devote his life to his first love, sailing.
More particularly, to devote himself to creating the opportunity for disabled people, especially kids, to learn to sail.
The SBS documentary, "disAble Bodied Sailors" follows David on his search for a disabled crew to take part in the one race that every sailor wants to win; the Rolex Sydney to Hobart.
David captained a disabled crew in the notorious 1998 Rolex Sydney to Hobart. In this race of the 115 yachts that started the race only 44 crossed the finish line. Fifty-five sailors had to be airlifted injured from distressed yachts. Five boats sank. Six men died. And, what happened to David's boat of disable-bodied sailors? It won its class.
In the post mortem of the race all of David's safety requirements and rules were adopted as standard fro blue water racing.
David's a man on a mission. To show that disabled people can take their place alongside the able-bodied, "ABs" as he calls them, and have their abilities acknowledged ahead of their disabilities.
"Sailing is the great equaliser. When the chips are down in the Rolex Sydney to Hobart, everyone's a cripple. In the pitch dark of a moonless night, everyone's blind. In a howling storm, everyone's deaf. When the boat's deck is riding at 90 degrees to the water no-one can walk, everyone scuttles around on their bum."
Growing up on the shores of Jervis Bay meant that Grace was always destined to be a water baby. Although born with the disability Spina Bifida, which has meant no use of her legs, Grace learnt to swim at an early age. This meant she could at least keep up with her siblings and friends in the water if not on land.
Joining the local swim club Grace swam competitively for a number of years before preferring a sport that would see more time spent outdoors.
Her first sailing experience was at the local Vincentia Sailing Club fooling around with other local kids on the Hobies. After joining Sailability Callala in her teens Grace sailed competitively in Sailability events throughout Australia, her best result being a 4th place in the World Championships in 2012.
A chance meeting with David Pescud, when she joined a group of students at one of MWF school based program's has seen her join MWF on a number of sails and school based programs. With David's encouragement Grace is excited and thrilled to be given the opportunity to train as a potential crew for the 2013 Rolex Sydney to Hobart Race and the very mention of it opens a world of acceptance.
At 18 years Grace is busy completing her HSC studies and training for the Rolex Sydney to Hobart, she loves the thrill and excitement of big boat racing and is embracing the challenge and opportunities that may come her way.
Started my sailing carer at the age of 8, dingy sailing on the lochs of Scotland and transitioned through dingies into yachts competing in my first offshore races in my mid to late teens. My sailing highlights include, Hornet worlds, Transchannel racing in the UK and the offshore racing in Australia including the Rolex Sydney to Hobart race. Ocean racing is not for everyone, for me it is a "peaceful sanctuary" away from the busy modern world where man and boat can push to the limits for speed, combined with a great respect for the power of mother nature.
I first sailed with MWF in the lead up to, and including the 2004 S2H, and since then have competed regularly on the boat. What makes me return again and again to the MWF program is the opportunity to sail with great people on a level playing field where sailing ability and 'mateship" are important and disability is not a consideration.
Wot Eva will be competing in the S2H this year not only to demonstrate that people of all abilities can partake in sport at all levels but to highlight the excellent work of MWF in creating all year round programs for the development of children and adults with DisAbilities.
I started sailing at about the age of 11 in Canberra after my brother and I joined the YMCA SC training programme, learning to sail in MJ’s. We then bought a VJ and raced in everything that we could enter. We met a number of great people and through them I regularly sailed on Manly Graduates, NS14’s and Sharpies. My father crafted a beautiful Moth in our garage and I raced ‘Pernod’ for a couple of years before moving to Sydney. I continued to sail my Moth as well as 5o5’s with friends and Sharpies through the Uni.
I had a motor cycle accident and lost the use of my left arm which put sailing on the ‘back burner’ for a while. I finished uni and my work took me to Alice Springs for a couple of years and then other inland locations where sailing was nonexistent. My wife Sue and I eventually settled back in Sydney and as our four kids are now self sufficient and the concentration on Saturday and Sunday school sports is finished, I had a strong desire to get back into some decent sailing.
I thought that, prior to getting into any keel boat; I should do some sea survival training to see if I could float. That is where I met the MWF guys doing a refresher. They invited me to the CYCA Twilights. What a stroke of luck!! The camaraderie, patience, understanding and teamwork in MWF is amazing. I have now been sailing the Twilights and Winter Series on Kayle for 18 months and I’m looking forward to the challenge of ‘bluewaters’.
Member Kirk Watson is virtually addicted to sailing. He sailed up and down the East Coast of Australia as a child and has with his wife owned and sailed his own boats most of his adult life. Kirk is visually impaired; his sight has been affected by the degenerative disease Retinitis Pigmentosa. Kirk's guide dog Tiller helps him get around (yes that is like a Tiller on a boat) and she loves sailing too.
Kirk was introduced to the Making Waves Foundation organisation by Mark Thompson, who knew Kirk would really enjoy sailing with the crew. Mark was right and Kirk has done many miles with the boat, including eight starts and five finishes of the Rolex Sydney to Hobart.
"The attitude on the boat is great, the focus is on sailing the boat and it really is about what you can do. When I'm out sailing I feel like my disability is left on the shore, as being on the boat is a familiar place and moving around becomes second nature," says Kirk.
"Through Making Waves Foundation I've had the opportunity to sail with a lot of different good sailors, and I was able to learn from their experience."
Kirk also helps out on kids days, when he can. This is always fun and inspiring. "It's good to see the kids have such a great time, to see their interest in sailing develop."
Of course Tiller is always popular with kids and adults, because on the boat she is off duty and gets to run around free, but she always keeps a watchful eye on Kirk. When preparing for a previous 'Hobart' Kirk volunteered to be the swimmer in the man overboard practice drill. Tiller whined and howled from the moment he jumped overboard until he was safely back on the boat, that is a good crew member.
I live with my partner Liesl Tesch.
I have been sailing for about 33yrs. I started sailing on Pittwater when I was at Pittwater High School. I started sailing in dinghies, and the 30ft yacht then owned by Pittwater High. Up until 2001 I switched a lot between dinghies and small yachts.
In 2001 MWF took me aboard Kayle when I competed in my first Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. I have been on the “Pesky Program” since then. This year will be my 10th Sydney to Hobart start. I should also note that I am one of the able bodies onboard.
I have been involved with MWF on & off since its inception, during that time I have done numerous northern campaign trips inc Hamilton Island race week , Mackay, Moolooloba & Southport races.
Longest passage to date being Sydney to Nth Carolina USA via the southern ocean taking 72 days non stop.
I have cruised extensively with my wife. We currently live on our own boat which we have built.
Hobart history - 3 attempts so far but all DNF. This time for sure!
New Zealander, been in Australia since 1986, Born 1961.
Enjoy sailing - all sorts of yachts, all sorts of sailing (Twlights through to Sydney to Hobart and major regattas). Been sailing with MWF off and on, since 2000. Was on Kalye when we won PHS 2007 Sydney to Hobart. This will be my 10th Sydney to Hobart.
After becoming legally blind in 2005 due to being involved in the Bali bombings, I now facilitate at TAFE NSW teaching Certificate IV in Business Management (FLM) and doing corporate and motivational speaking.
However, the loss of my sight has not stopped me from sailing, which I have been doing for the past 30 years, on yachts up to 83’ in length.
I have completed in 10 Sydney to Hobart’s, with a 2nd and 3rd in Division, including the notorious ’98 race, have done 22 Sydney to Gold Coast races, raced and cruised to Lord Howe Island 14 times, was on board an ex Whitbread maxi when she “got the double” obtaining line honors and overall winner of the Brisbane to Gladstone yacht race and was a divisional winner in the 2012 Pittwater to Coffs Harbour race on my own yacht on my first attempt at this race.
I have done 1,000’s of ocean miles delivering yachts & motor vessels from Cairns to Adelaide and as far away as New Caledonia, Vanuatu and New Zealand, crossed Bass Strait 24 times and circumnavigated Tasmania, mostly 2 handed, during which time I have encounted most of what “Mother Nature” can dish up.
Being legally blind has enabled me to meet some amazing people including other like minded sailors at MWF and I am looking forward to being part of the Hobart team for this year’s race.