Michele conquers the Rolex Sydney Hobart

  • Racing
  • NEWS
  • By Jennifer Crooks
  • 31 Dec 2006 10:25:00
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Michele Colenso, owner of Capriccio of Rhu, receiving the division winners flag from Commodore Geoff Lavis

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After arriving in Australia having sailed from the UK, the 44 year old was diagnosed with breast cancer and immediately underwent surgery. Since then, Michele has been undergoing chemotherapy, delaying her final treatment in order to take on this year’s race.

Michele Colenso and the crew of Capriccio of Rhu have successfully completed this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart in a bid to raise the awareness of the importance of early detection of breast cancer.

Michele arrived at Constitution Dock at 6.18am this morning, Sunday 31 December, having contested the 628 nautical mile blue water classic with her crew of four as part of a world circumnavigation.

After arriving in Australia having sailed from the UK, the 44 year old was diagnosed with breast cancer and immediately underwent surgery. Since then, Michele has been undergoing chemotherapy, delaying her final treatment in order to take on this year’s race.

Before the end of 2006, Michele wanted to tick three items off her ‘to do’ list; to arrive in Hobart before the New Year; to increase awareness, particularly amongst young woman, of the importance of early detection of breast cancer; and to contribute to the development of better early detection methods for the disease.

“Sitting here this morning on New Year’s Eve in Hobart I can happily say that I have completed one of my tasks for 2006.”

“The second and third tasks, I now realise we must keep pressing on with.

“We must keep raising the awareness of early detection and to carry on with the search for better early detection methods.”

Michele and her skipper Andy Poole and crewmen Colin Hay and John Cassidy won the Cruising Division, coasting up the Derwent in a light breeze to complete the race in a time of 4 days 17 hours 18 minutes 41 seconds.

“I have to say this race is not something I would recommend anyone undergoing chemotherapy should undertake,” admitted Michele this morning.

“I did find it extremely hard both physically and mentally, I would not consider attempting this kind of sailing for quite a while.

“We did have some ups and downs across the course of the trip with the first and third days being extremely hairy. We were slight appeased with good sailing on day two however this quickly dissipated on day three as we entered Bass Strait.

“However we did have a cracking run as we crossed Bass Strait and headed down the east coast of Tasmania, unfortunately the winds lightened as we entered the Derwent. We really wanted to sail across the finish line in style but this wasn’t going to happen.”

The crew of the heavy Oyster 55 Capriccio of Rhu managed to get two loads of washing done and cook a roast dinner as they headed across Bass Strait. As Michele said this morning, “we were determined to use that washing machine and Bass Strait seemed the perfect place to give it a whirl.”

Michele’s campaign to raise awareness of the early detection of breast cancer was spearheaded by the roller coaster ride she and the five other women diagnosed in May this year have been on.

“We wanted to take our anger and turned it into something positive. We sat down, devised our slogan and went for it. We developed our T-shirts and campaign and hope it reaches others.

“Our simple statement to women out there is ‘if you want to keep them, feel them’.”

“More than 13,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 and the number continues to rise”, said Michele Colenso.

“We need to get the numbers down and education is the only way. If our journey has made one woman think about getting to know her body better then the message our crew is trying to deliver has been a success.”

Having passed through so many countries and not being familiar with Hobart, when asked whether the crew of Capriccio of Rhu was heading down to Customs House this morning for the obligatory victory drink, they assumed they had to once again clear customs.

The crew was all smiles when they realised there is no paperwork to fill out. They only have to soak up the atmosphere of the finish and enjoy the sense of achievement having successfully completed the tough 2006 Rolex Sydney Hobart.

T-shirts can be bought at www.ssamm.com.au with all proceeds going direct to the research fund.

Donations can also be made at www.nbcf.org.au to the ‘donations to research’ tab and selecting the ‘Michele Colenso – Sydney Hobart Campaign’ tab. - Anna Wallin

 

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