Next month, former Howick college student and Beachlands resident Ben Beasley (19) and friend Nick Gardiner (20) will be sailing 1271 nautical miles around Te Ika A Maui in the ‘Round North Island race’.
They are using the challenge to raise awareness and funds for the charity Lifeline. The charity receives no Government funding and yet fields a staggering 10,000 calls a month offering a listening ear to people in dark places. It costs $750 to train one helpline volunteer, and, to date, the boys have raised enough money for one and a bit volunteer(s), but they would like to raise enough to train two or more people.
The cause hits close to home. The boys both have personal stories of friends and family suffering depression and mental illness
The race starts on February 22. It’s being run by the Shorthanded Sailing Association of New Zealand (SSANZ) and supported by Evolution Sails
The first race was in 1977 and was started by Prince Philip off Devonport Wharf as part of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee tour. Sir Peter Blake and Graham Eder were first to the finish
Ben and Nick will be the youngest sailors to undertake the race, with the smallest boat. They estimate it should take them about two weeks to complete.
They both started sailing at the age of 9 – learning to sail Optimists, then moving through youth sailing classes, competing in national and international regattas and crewing on keelboats in coastal races and regattas
Both work in sailing-related industries – Ben is a trainee spar maker and Nick is a trainee sailmaker.
Evolution Sails is supporting them for the race
The boys’ Lifeline fundraising page is https://give.everydayhero.com/nz/sailing-for-lifeline-1
They also have a Facebook page where you can follow their progress https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Amateur-Sports-Team/MV-Sailing-Elliott-79-280347112506534/.
The SSANZ RNI 2020 website page is here: https://www.ssanz.co.nz/round-north-island-2020/