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Charity regatta sails to new record


A charity regatta has overcome a backdrop of bushfires and drought to sail to a new fundraising record.

The annual Heaven Can Wait (HCW) Charity Sailing Regatta, hosted by the Royal Motor Yacht Club Toronto at Lake Macquarie last month, posted a total of $46,000, overtaking the previous best effort from 2018.

Race Director Mel Steiner said organisers had been bracing for a tough year of fundraising.

“Bushfires and drought had sucked up a lot of the available charity dollars and, combined with the view that people were doing it tough, we fully expected the fundraising effort to be down on previous years,” he said.

The funds will go to the Hunter Branch of Cancer Council NSW’s Home Help Program, which supports both recovering and terminal cancer patients who are unable to perform their domestic duties because of their condition, as well as Lake Macquarie Marine Rescue.

The HCW offers up some unique sailing, whether it be the Classic One Lap Dash – a quick jaunt around the cans covering the length and breadth of the lake – or the 24-Hour Endurance Race over the same course.

The event’s charity dinner traditionally features local yachting personalities and renowned ABC Newcastle sports commentator Helene O’Neil as guests.

However, the 2020 edition included a panel of five women – three of whom competed in their first Sydney to Hobart a year prior, while one boasted 14 to her name.

“We wanted to put the focus on women sailors because sailing is a sport that both women and men can participate equally in, either separately or in mixed formats, and we want to see more women sailing,” Steiner added.

“I want to see an all women crew racing with us in our mid-week and weekend race series.

“In the 2020 HCW, we had another first – an all-women crew competing, and I applaud their participation.”

This year’s HCW saw 55 boats registered to compete.

It is the centrepiece of Lakefest – a celebration of aquatic and land-based activities on, and around, Lake Macquarie.

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