Oceans of Hope, a 67-foot sail yacht currently docked at North Cove Marina, New York, is on a round-the-world voyage to become the first ship to ever circumnavigate with a crew of people who have Multiple Sclerosis. The voyage, initiated by Sailing Sclerosis Foundation, set sail from Copenhagen, Denmark on June 15th 2014. While in New York, Oceans of Hope will be in New York from November 11-16, and will feature sailing days for local MS patients, and her crew will visit a local MS patient care center. Oceans of Hope will host events and ports of call during the 17 months voyage to allow as many people as possible to participate in sailing activities. In every port of call, local MS patients are taken daysailing aboard Oceans of Hope and a variety of other sailing craft to introduce them to the freedom that sailing provides.
The vessel is scheduled to call at Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on December 5-9, where it will be recognized again at the MSF Hats Off Gala with a Beacon of Light Award. On the first leg of its voyage, Oceans of Hope has already called at Kiel, Germany; Amsterdam, Holland; Portsmouth, England; LaRochelle, France; Lisbon, Portugal; and Boston, Massachusetts.
Oceans of Hope is a Sailing Sclerosis Foundation project that aims to change perceptions of multiple sclerosis, inspiring people with the disease to overcome their own personal challenges by telling the stories of those taking part in the first ever circumnavigation in a vessel crewed by people with MS.
The Sailing Sclerosis Foundation was established by Dr. Mikkel Anthonisen, a specialist at Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark. A doctor for 14 years, he is also a qualified psychotherapist and sailor who between the ages of 19 and 23 worked on boats, sailing all over the world. Dr. Anthonisen has been working with multiple sclerosis patients since 2010, and it was a conversation with a patient which had himself built a boat to travel around the world that sparked the idea of making the voyage.
“It’s the natural progression and the ultimate dream after we set up a really successful sailing program in Denmark for people with MS, he explains. “It started quite small, grew bigger and more people got involved, and realized their MS didn’t mean they had to stop completely doing something they love; it’s just a question of doing it a bit differently.”
Dr. Anthonisen adds: “they work like a team and they don’t think about having this disease. They just do what they have to do, and if they can’t use one arm they use the other. So this is my aim: to open eyes to their resources instead of only limitations and obstacles.”
This project is made possible by Biogen Idec, the official partner of the Sailing Sclerosis Foundation and the Oceans of Hope campaign.
The vessel is crewed by up to 10 different international MS patients for each leg of the voyage, providing a unique platform of adventure and challenge.
Boat manager Jens Als Andersen was a director of A.P. Moller- Maersk the world’s largest container shipping company. He broke his back in an accident in 1974, but has competed three times the single-handed transatlantic race (formally OSTAR), won silver in the FBS world championships, and is a Paralympic silver medalist, having completed in the last four Paralympic games.
Captain Kristian Bo Echwald Hansen is an accomplished sailor, having skippered the Swan 82 yacht owned by Maersk-McKinney, and worked as a technical coordinator at the Kongelig Dansk Yachtklub (Royal Danish Yacht Club).
After leaving Fort Lauderdale, Oceans of Hope will transit the Panama Canal and begin a trans-Pacific crossing with ports of call in New Zealand and Australia, Africa, and multiple stops in the Eastern and Western Mediterranean, which will bring the yacht and her crew to a grand finale in the port of Barcelona, Spain, and October 2015.
The yacht is a Challenge 67, renamed Oceans of Hope on world MS day 2014 by Lone Dybkjaer, former Danish environment minister and MEP. She was built in 1996 for the BT global challenge to race around the world “the wrong way” against the prevailing winds and currents. The 20 meters long steel hulled vessel was previously based in Bilbao, Spain, where she undertook scientific and educational expeditions around the world under the name Pakea Bizkaia.
The Multiple Sclerosis International Federation (MSIF) is the world’s only global network of MS organizations, with 44 member organizations from around the globe, as well as links to many other smaller organizations. MSIF works to improve the quality of life for people affected by MS, wherever they live.
MSIF brings together the work of MS organizers organizations to help people affected by MS around the world. Along with their members, MSIF campaigns for increased international awareness of MS, provide information and support to people affected by MS, and supports international research to discover better treatments and ways to manage disease.
Biogen Idec, the official partner of theSailing Sclerosis Foundation and the Oceans of Hope project, applies cutting-edge science and medicine to discover, develop, and deliver to patients innovative therapies for the treatment of neural generative diseases, hemophilia, and autoimmune disorders.
Patients worldwide benefit from Biogen Idec’s leading multiple sclerosis therapies. Founded in 1978, Biogen Idec is the world’s oldest independent biotechnology company, with headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, direct commercial presents in 30 countries, and has district distribution agreements in an additional 60 additional.
MSF (http://www.msfocus.org or 888-MSFOCUS), is a national publicly-funded 501(c) non-profit organization headquartered in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. MSF’s mission of is to provide vital programs and services for those affected by MS, and heighten public awareness and understanding for those diagnosed with the illness in order to elicit financial support for their needs. MSFocusRadio.org, the first online radio station for the MS community, broadcasts content round-the-clock, brought to you by MSF.
Sailing Sclerosis Foundation
Sailing Sclerosis Foundation