Sailing regatta raises $40,000

2nd May 2019

Source: The Lakes Mail | By: David Stewart | Posted: May 2, 2019

CANCER survivor Shaun Lewicki understands better than most the relief that comes from having the lawns mowed, and the house cleaned, while being laid up at home battling the disease.

"When I had cancer, one of the problems I had was 'chemo brain'," Mr Lewicki said.

"You can't get any lower mentally. Mentally, you really take a bashing," he said.

"So to know you have someone to look after the lawn, to take the dog for a walk, or to do your washing, is massive."

That's what made Wednesday's cheque presentations at Royal Motor Yacht Club, Toronto, so satisfying for Mr Lewicki.

A cheque for $35,000 was presented to the Hunter Branch of the Cancer Council NSW for its Home Help program.

A $5000 cheque was also gifted to Lake Macquarie Marine Rescue.

The cheques were the proceeds of the annual charity sailing event that Mr Lewicki founded in 2005, the Heaven Can Wait Charity Sailing Regatta.

Funds are raised via corporate sponsorship, a charity dinner and auction, race entry fees, and fundraising activities on the part of competitors and crew, their friends, family and work associates. 

Community relations coordinator for the Cancer Council of NSW, Kirsten Lyndon, said the Home Help program offered relief to cancer patients whose treatment often caused fatigue and physical limitations.

Mowing lawns and house cleaning are among the primary services provided in the program.

"This money is just incredible," Ms Lyndon said on receiving the cheque.

"It goes straight to our region, and we simply wouldn't be able to facilitate the service without this event, so it means the absolute world to us."

The Heaven Can Wait Charity Sailing Regatta, held in February, featured four races run in parallel on Lake Macquarie - a one-lap dash; a short one-lap dash for yachts, multi hulls, off-the-beach boats and trailer sailors; a 12-hour race; and a 24-hour race.

There's a frivolity and generosity of spirit that surrounds the race and associated social events every year.

But Mr Lewicki said the elite sailors - including experienced veterans of the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - took the race very seriously.

"There are the casual sailors who do it for the experience, but with the serious guys, they're cut throat," he smiled.

Mr Lewicki said it was "awesome" to have seen the race grow in stature over the years.

"Apart from the many local sailors who take part, we now have a lot of sailors from Newcastle and Sydney, and from Darwin and Queensland," he said.

International sailors are also now regular participants.

"We've even had sailors from Minnetonka, in Minnesota."

This year's race again featured a fly-over by Paul Bennet Airshows, provided at no cost to the event organisers.

Race director and RMYC Toronto vice-commodore Mel Steiner said the $40,000 raised by this year's event was about $10,000 down on the record amount raised in 2018.

"There's a couple of reasons why," he said.

"A lot of the available charity money has been soaked up by the drought, and some people are doing it tough. They're holding back, and not spending as much," he said.

Mr Steiner paid tribute to the event's sponsors including Marmong Point Marina, Rotary International (Toronto), Centennial Coal and Smith and Sons.

Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper commended the race organisers and supporters, and praised the Home Help program for its "practical help for people at the worst time of their lives".

He made personal donations of $500 to the Hunter Branch of the Cancer Council NSW, and $250 to Lake Macquarie Marine Rescue.

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