ACRF to Benefit From Historic Sporting event

Two outrigger canoes soon plan to cross-treacherous Bass Strait to raise awareness and money for the Australian Cancer Research Foundation and in doing so will be the first canoes to ever attempt such a feat.

Manned by two crews of six the historic crossing, starting April 10, is also being made to honour two men.

One of these is Peter Corbishley who has personally built more than 300 racing outrigger canoes in Australia over the past 20 years. He has made an enormous contribution to the sport here in Australia and his canoes have even been exported to teams in Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Tahiti, Samoa and New Zealand.

After making canoes for many years in his factory in the Whitsundays Peter moved his operation down to Tweed Heads and it was here he finally picked up a paddle and began training and competing in the sport he has contributed so much to.

Earlier last year Peter was diagnosed with Non Hodgkinsons T-Cell Lymphoma a rare and terminal form of skin cancer. As a sign of respect and to honour Peter’s contribution to the sport the plan is to paddle with Peter in one of the canoes he has made across Bass Strait. Peter will be part of the crew to raise awareness for cancer and to raise money in aid of Cancer research and to also prove that there is life after diagnosis.

The trip is also being made in honour of Chris Robinson, a paddler and world renowned Greenpeace skipper and activist who sadly lost his battle with cancer this year. Chris devoted his life to protect the oceans from whaling activities, nuclear testing and exploitation. He learnt his skills in Bass Strait and participated in campaigns to give the Bass Strait Islands protected status. Chris was to be the skipper of the support vessel for the crossing.

The two outrigger canoe teams plan to cross island hop from Wilsons Promontory in Victoria, the most southern tip on mainland Australia, to the North Eastern tip of Tasmania.

The largest stretch of open ocean to cross is 65km with average distances of 50 kilometers per day. The canoes used will be Outrigger Connection’s Mirage OC6 paddled by a crew of 6 paddlers. A support boat will escort the canoe carrying all the supplies and a spare paddler in case of injury.

Participants will camp on the Bass Strait Islands. The crossing is planned for April 10th through to April 27th 2009 and will allow 17 days to complete the crossing which will allow for bad weather and to explore some of the beautiful and remote coasts and islands in Bass Strait.

Making the trip for the ACRF will be some dedicated rowers.

These include Brendan Condon, nicknamed “Brendo’’ who is 40 and the Managing Director of Australian Ecosystems, Cape Paterson Ecovillage. He said recently he had personal reasons for attempting he crossing. “Cancer is a perennial scourge of humanity and impacts on the lives of everyone. I am paddling in memory of my friend Chris Robinson – last year he skippered a support boat and shepherded us across Bass Strait in seakayaks and then was diagnosed with cancer,’’ Condon said. “He will be with us in spirit across the voyage. We need to find a cure for cancer as soon as possible and this trip will help give our best scientific brains a bit more support to that end. I am looking forward to participating in this great adventure and getting out into the great and little known Bass Strait Island wilderness areas with a great team,’’ he said.

“Our group will gather on Good Friday at Port Welshpool where we will rig the canoes and practice safety drills, and load gear on to our escort boat the Furneaux Explorer. Although our group is comprised of very experienced paddlers from all around Australia, this will be our first time together as crews, Early on Saturday morning 11th April we will leave in the pre dawn, hitting out on a 60 kilometer leg to Refuge Cove. We will stay together at all times for safety and morale, and blend our two crews so they are a as even as possible and do not spread apart over the hours. We will arrive in Refuge Cove, spend the night and assess the weather. When the weather is suitable we will leave the Prom and Victoria behind and paddle toward the Bass Strait Islands, first destination Hogan Island.

“As we leave Wilsons Promontory, Hogan Island will not be visible, 55 kilometers away. A low island, it will be obscured by the curvature of the earth and will not reveal herself for about two hours of paddling. This will give us the experience of paddling out into a vast ocean with nothing on the horizon,’’ he said.

“After arriving at Hogan, the next leg is to the incredibly beautiful Kent Group of islands. They are a comparatively short hop of 40 kilometers from Hogan, and have massive cliffs, forests, grasslands and the highest lighthouse in the Southern Hemisphere.

“After the Kent Group, we will paddle a 65 kilometer hop to Flinders Island, passing a number of small rocky outcrops on the way. This leg is a long haul, which will test the endurance of the group. We will arrive at Killecrankie Bay on Flinders Island for some rest and recovery. The group will then paddle approximately 60 kilometers down the side of Flinders, possibly stopping in at Lady Barron before heading across past Clarke Island and then on to make landfall on Tasmania at Little Musselroe Bay. This remote landfall may be the end of the trip, but if we have time we will then paddle another 50 kilometer final leg to Bridport, where the adventure will conclude.

“Our group is looking forward to this adventure. The beauty of the Bass Strait Islands is renowned, with abundant wildlife such as sea eagles, mutton birds, albatross, dolphins, seal and penguin colonies and an amazing abundance of marine diversity. Some of the islands are spectacular, and we look forward to meeting the Bass Strait communities as we travel through.’’Other participants include Peter John Corbishley, Colin Bartley, Lisa Spain, Marie Jane Pearson, Chris McKiernan, Jason Shepherd, Terrence Russell, Gert Herremnn Christensen, John Huber, Ian Newland, Alison Green, Marcel Mangelsdorf, and Stephanie Jaques.

To mark the start of the “Crossing For Cancer’’ challenge a special fund raising evening will be held at Breezes Restaurant in the Crown Casino Complex Southbank on Thursday 9th April.

This starts at 7.30pm , price: $70.00 p/p. The night’s theme: Smart casual or Hawaii Five-O (no swimmers). Ticket includes 2 excellent live bands, a three course meal, beer, wine and soft drink included – other drinks at bar prices.

For more information go to www.crossingforcancer.org