Oceans of Hope yacht arrives in Portsmouth

The 20-metre yacht, Oceans of Hope
© Oceans of Hope / Oliver Franke
Oceans of Hope, the 20-metre yacht undertaking the first circumnavigation with a working crew of people with multiple sclerosis (MS), has arrived in Portsmouth, UK, on the latest leg of the 61,000-kilometre (33,000-nautical mile) global voyage.

During the four-day stopover Oceans of Hope will be berthed at Gunwharf Quays and people with MS will be invited to take part in a day of sailing tomorrow (Friday 4 July). Further information can be found at Sailing Sclerosis.

Oceans of Hope is the flagship vessel of a campaign by the same name which aims to change perceptions of MS during the course of its 17-month global journey, encouraging participation in sailing as the yacht makes its way around the world. It is a project of the Sailing Sclerosis Foundation which was set up by Danish doctor and psychotherapist, Mikkel Anthonisen.

People from all over the world can take part in the voyage. British crew member, Phil Gowers, 46, a dental surgeon and father of two from Gosport, Hampshire, will join the crew on board in Portsmouth for the next stage to La Rochelle, France.

He said, 'Even when you’re faced with an incurable disease you should always have hope. Oceans of Hope is giving us something that is really a brilliant opportunity to take around the world that will really make everyone realise that we are there to be involved with life. We want to make the most of this fantastic opportunity.'

Phil explains that his view of life changed following the devastating Kings Cross fire in November 1987 in which 31 people died.

'When I was younger I was one of the last people out of the Kings Cross fire and after that my perspective on life was different. I don’t fear it; I embrace it. I think it will be really lovely for people to challenge themselves in a relatively safe environment.'

Oceans of Hope’s voyage began in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 15 June 2014 and will continue across the globe with further stops in Europe, the United States, South America, Australia and Africa, ending the circumnavigation back in Copenhagen in the autumn of 2015.

People with MS from all over the world can take part and places are still available on board throughout the journey. To find out more and to apply to take part, download the application forms at sailingsclerosis.com.

Biogen Idec is the Official Partner of Oceans of Hope. Through cutting-edge science and medicine Biogen Idec discovers, develops and delivers to patients worldwide innovative therapies for the treatment of MS. Founded in 1978, Biogen Idec is the world’s oldest independent biotechnology company.

Mikkel Anthonisen said, 'We have really been looking forward to our time in Portsmouth. We want change the perceptions of MS by challenging assumptions of what is possible, both in the person living with the disease and in wider society. Oceans of Hope is the torch bearer for the idea of creating networks between the sailing and MS worlds. We are already working with the local branches of the MS Society and hope we will be able to leave behind the seeds of an idea that will continue to grow in Portsmouth once Oceans of Hope sets sail for La Rochelle.'

Oceans of Hope will set sail from Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth, at midday (1100 UTC) on Sunday 6 July and is due to arrive in the Bassin des Chalutiers in La Rochelle, France, on the afternoon of Thursday 10 July.