TWO Lymington sailors are preparing to join forces with French counterparts for the challenge of crossing the English Channel in a convoy of tiny dinghies to raise money for the NHS.
Hattie Rogers and William Heathcote, both members of the Royal Lymington Yacht Club, are set to depart in Waszp-class craft from Lymington and sail the 103 miles to Le Havre in France when the weather permits at some point between 12th and 18th August.
They will be joined by British teammate Edward Higson from Draycote Water Sailing Club, and three sailors from France: Pierre Leboucher, Mael Garnier and Corentin Horeau.
They aim to raise money for the NHS and the French Assistance Publique Hôpitaux de Paris, while also promoting international friendships.
Event organiser Hattie (20) is a youth and ladies sailing champion who represented Team GBR for the 2017 Youth World Championships sailing a 29er.
In 2019 she also completed the Fastnet Race in a Contessa 32 and was Contessa 26 national champion.
She explained: “The summer of 2020 is providing plenty of days with superb sailing conditions but a distinct lack of events in which to share the camaraderie and experience of being on the water.
“The Waszp class has been renowned for its community spirit since its inception in 2016, and a group of enterprising British and French sailors, filled with a spirit of adventure, put together this Foil for Life challenge.
“It is going to be tough, but I am so excited! We really want to show how amazing foiling is and the capabilities of the Waszp, as well as making a difference to lives with the money that has been raised.”
A huge amount of work has gone into planning the challenge, and the dinghy sailors will be accompanied by three RIB support boats for the entire crossing.
Hattie explained that choosing suitable weather conditions with a 10 to 15-knot south-westerly wind will be key to their success. The challenge can be pushed back if necessary.
Hattie said: “This challenge was able to be planned due to not having any international events this summer because of Covid-19.
“One of the best things about the Waszp class is the community feel. It is such a great opportunity to bring the British and French Waszp communities together and do something for charity.
“Covid-19 has highlighted the amazing work both the NHS and Assistance Publique Hôpitaux de Paris does and how lucky we are to have them.
“The reason we have chosen these charities is to deepen the meaning behind this challenge in showing the French and British sailing community relationship, despite Brexit and any political arrangements.”
The support crews are volunteering their time and RIBs for the challenge to keep costs to an absolute minimum.
The event is sponsored by Lemer Pax, the Delphie Lakeman Trust on the Isle of Wight, Andrew McIrvine, Waszp, the Royal Ocean Racing Club, the Le Havre Yacht Club, and the Royal Lymington Yacht Club. Visit www.foilforlife.com