ORCV Hutchwilco Melbourne to Stanley - Let's Kiss Goodbye to MS

Tony Warren adjusting instruments in the cockpit of the Inglis 37, which is now to be known as, Kiss Goodbye to MS - ORCV Hutchwilco Melbourne to Stanley 2011
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ORCV Hutchwilco Melbourne to Stanley (M2S) - On the start line for 2011 is a boat very well known to us, but just a little disguised. Beyond Outrageous are almost better known now as Team BO. However, as of a little while ago, their new name is simply, Kiss Goodbye to MS.

When we first heard about this, it was when the entry for the well-known and vastly travelled Inglis, popped up for the 2011 Hutchwilco Melbourne to Stanley race, which in itself is a qualifier for the Christmas time races. As mentioned, just about everyone knows the boat and her Skipper, Tony Warren, is a familiar face too, having competed in three of the 5500nm Melbourne to Osaka races, done over ten Westcoasters from Melbourne to Hobart and three Rolex Sydney Hobart races, as well. It is the latter that they will undertake as Kiss Goodbye to MS, in December, 2011.

The Hutchwilco Melbourne to Stanley race marks the start of a 12-month campaign for the crew to raise awareness of and much needed funds for research into this most debilitating of diseases. However, it has been a two-year build up for this next season, both on the water and in the classroom, as the undertook their mandatory safety training and learned more about nutrition. 'We’ve failed to keep our calories up in the last couple of races and that’s let us down. This year we are more prepared in all areas', said Tony.

Tony has got behind this campaign with Multiple Sclerosis Research Australia, though one of his crewmembers, Ian Law. Tony is all too aware of having an ongoing daily struggle, as he deals with dyslexia. 'One of our crew, Dr Ian Law, has a diagnosis of MS and is keen to use the campaign as an opportunity to draw attention to the prevalence of MS in Australia, both at the seriously debilitating end of the spectrum and at the less visible end of the spectrum, which may not be obvious to us all.'

Ian Law - ORCV Hutchwilco Melbourne to Stanley 2011
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Ian explains his motivation, 'Many people with such a diagnosis may choose to hide their diagnosis and symptoms from others, for fear of job security and judgement of others regarding their capabilities. Consequently many people may know someone with MS but what they may not know is that they deal with their MS, daily. Our aim, apart from being competitive in our class in the race, is to contribute to the awareness of MS in our community and facilitate the raising of funds for research for a cure. It will be fun, challenging and hopefully, contribute to the work of MSRA and its Kiss Goodbye to MS campaign.'

Ian is a psychologist by background and has worked in senior management for a number of years, both overseas and in Australia. He is now the General Manager of Relationships Australia, Victoria, a non-government welfare organisation that provides a range of clinical services. He was formally diagnosed with MS about 12 years ago, but has had some symptoms most of his life. Being secure in his workplace and in his position in the crew, where he handles the halyards and other ropes at the mast, as well as being a trimmer of the mainsail, he finds it a bit easier to talk about his condition, than those who may feel more vulnerable to being judged.

'We are all familiar with the more public and devastating face of MS that can strike people down in their teens, twenties and early thirties. An image of a young woman in a wheelchair would represent the most aggressive form of Multiple Sclerosis. However, the pernicious nature of this degenerative neurological disease means that many suffer milder forms of MS, which are far less visible to the casual observer. Chronic nerve pain, fatigue, constant flu-like symptoms, muscle spasms and spasticity, burning sensations, loss of muscle strength and function are just the beginning of the long list of effects an MS sufferer may deal with. Each person’s story is unique, but each has their collection of MS bricks in their backpack to carry around in their everyday life. Many, for fear of being seen as not up to the task, may hide their experience in the workplace, recreational and sporting endeavours and even their social circle', said Ian.

'I'm lucky. I am at the easy end of the MS scale and I am secure enough in my work that I can talk about my experiences of MS. Consequently, I am committed to using the season, our boat and crew's place in it, to contribute to making a difference and give back to the community. We hope to help MSRA in their endeavour to both raise awareness of the problem of MS in our community and to encourage the donation of funds to help in the search for a cure, as well as the development of better and more effective treatments for MS', Ian commented.

Blake Middleton - ORCV Hutchwilco Melbourne to Stanley 2011
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Blake Middleton HCW - ORCV Hutchwilco Melbourne to Stanley 2011
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On a personal note, I was very keen to develop a story for Kiss Goodbye to MS, not only because of Team BO, but also because of the man pictured above.

For the last two years, I have been fortunate enough to firstly meet and then see once again, Blake Middleton. Blake ventures out from the USA each year to support and be the PRO for the Heaven Can Wait regatta and One Lap Dash on Lake Macquarie, in NSW. The event was created by Sean Lewicki after his struggles with cancer, as a way to bolster awareness and raise funds for men's health issue. When he heard about it, Blake put his hand in his pocket and got himself over to Australia and continues to do so annually, since it began six years ago.

A man very dedicated to sailing, he used to be a coach with Team USA, Blake also has great enthusiasm and energy. He looks in fine fettle and smiles nearly all the time. To say I find him inspiring is unjust, for I did not know the half of what has beset him in the past. Back in 2003/4 Blake was diagnosed with both cancer and MS, during what must have been a very black five month period. He's done well. He's still with us today and you would never know the amount of concentration it takes for him to even stand, as he has little feeling in his feet, for instance.

As I say, he's quite humble, but he did tell me, 'My personal approach is one that is mirrored by Phil Keoghan, the New Zealand born host of 'The Amazing Race'. His motto is now, which stands for ‘No Opportunity Wasted’ and it's the philosophy that I live my life by.'

You can learn more about Blake's determination and adventures at his website, here.

Whenever it can be done, the kite will be up aboard Kiss Goodbye to MS! - ORCV Hutchwilco Melbourne to Stanley 2011
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Taking ourselves back to Kiss Goodbye to MS, we learn that Ian Law is a recent convert to yachting, having got into it just two years ago. 'It’s been a steep learning curve and there’s only one way to prepare - that’s to sail, and then sail, and then sail a bit more. Sleep deprivation, restricted mobility, nausea and the possibility of suffering from such profound boredom that you feel like gnawing your own arm off. Sounds like that may be the result of having MS, but it's actually what I think of when yachting comes to mind. Actually, the more I think about, the boredom of a boat in the doldrums is worse than facing five metre swells', said Ian. Ed - Kind of reminds me about my favourite description of ocean racing - Loooooooong periods of boredom interspersed with moments of sheer terror.

So why do it, then? Ian jokes, 'The most fun anyone gets out of ocean racing is talking about it afterwards. Seriously though, I do get a great sense of satisfaction from overcoming the challenge of being out on the ocean, the team work, being competitive and just feeling alive in the elements. With Kiss Goodbye to MS, we all get to be part of something even more worthwhile and useful. Many people with MS are quite visible in the community, but there are many more whose symptoms are not so obvious. We’re hoping this season will provide an opportunity to raise awareness of MS and engage with corporate organisations who might be interested in donating funds for research in pursuit of a cure.'

They may well get their wish, too, for Simon McKeon, the Australian of the Year 2011 and the retired founding Chairman of MS Research Australia is the Patron for Kiss Goodbye to MS. Simon is a lawyer, investment banker, avid sailor, holder of the world speed sailing record, philanthropist, and also has MS. Simon should be well able to help open doors for them.

So then, if there are some corporates who would like to help, such as Watermark Intellectual Asset Management has done, or you want to dig in to your own pocket a bit, here are some useful links for you!

To see about the boat - go here

To see about Ian Law - go here

To see about the Multiple Sclerosis Research Australia - go here

To see about the Kiss Goodbye to MS campaign and throw some money at it - go here

The bow of near-sister ship, Addiction, just sneaking in to frame as they race, ever so competitively, on Melbourne's Port Phillip... - ORCV Hutchwilco Melbourne to Stanley 2011
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Finally then, we have 37 vessels in the 2011 Hutchwilco M2S - Addiction, Alibi, Alien, Arch Rival, Bandit, Biddy Hu II, Cadibarra 8, Calm, Chikara Outlaw, Cavarlo, Dekadence, Dark & Stormy, Dry White, eXtasea, FullyNPushing, Gusto, Halcyon, Independent Endeavour, Jazz Player, Kiss Goodbye to MS, Magazan 53, Magic, Matrix, Mille Sabords, Mirrabooka, Nutcracker, Pretty Woman, Scarlet Runner, Slinky Malinky, Spirit of Downunder, Tevake II, Trybooking.com, Under Capricorn, Weekend Option, White Noise, XLR8 and Yoko, which is excellent. Well done and good luck to all!!!

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