Jonathan Wallis

Sheevra Fastnet Race page

Fundraising for MPN Voice (Guy's and St Thomas' Charity)
raised of £1,950 target
by 44 supporters
Donations cannot currently be made to this page
Participants: Pippa Wallis, my wife


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Fastnet Challenge 2019

We have owned and sailed Sheevra, a 1969 Swan 36, for 14 years. At first the children crewed, but as they have left home we have often sailed  with just my wife and I on board. 

2 years ago we took part , fully crewed with 6 on board,  in the Fastnet race, 630 miles from  Cowes in the Solent to Plymouth by way of the Fastnet rock off south west Ireland. It is one of the most famous international offshore yacht races not least so because of the severe storm that sunk boats and cost some lives in 1979.  The entry list includes professional sailors from across the world, the latest and most exciting sail technology, but also many amateur  racers like ourselves. 

This year we are entering the race with myself, a just  retired haematologist, and my wife.  Short handed sailing is increasingly popular and this year there are over 70 of 340 entrants sailing just two up, so plenty of competition.

We have now completed two qualifying races  (see news) and our entry is accepted.  The race begins on 3rd August off Cowes in the Solent.  It will take about three days to reach the Fastnet rock and 2 days to return to Plymouth. Storms aside (they are not that common in August)  the main challenge is to get enough sleep whilst keeping the boat moving as fast as possible, and in the right direction. We will not win but we would like to come
in the top half of the fleet.

During my career as a Haematologist I have  shad a particular interest in Myeloproliferative diseases. These are conditions in which the bone marrow overproduces normal blood cells.  There are three main types, Essential thombocythaemia or ET, where the marrow makes too many platelets, part of your blood clotting machinery. People with this condition are especially prone to thrombosis. Secondly is polycythaemia vera (PV) which is over-production of red cells. Patients with this condition have too many red cells that makes the blood viscous and sticky. They are also prone to thrombosis. Thirdly is Myelofibrosis (MF) , where the marrow is scarred due
to over-production of platelet making cells. Both ET and PV can turn into MF, and all three can turn into an acute leukemia. We have learnt a lot about these diseases due to advances in genetics over the last 20 years  but there is still much to be learnt.

MPNvoice provides a  valuable source of information and support to patients and their families and in addition funds scientific research into the causes and treatment of these not uncommon conditions. 

I am looking for sponsorship to complete the Fastnet race in aid of MPN voice.  All the
money will go direct to MPNvoice  to support their patient facing work and their contributions to MPN research.
There is a 25% chance that we will not complete the race due to seriously bad weather, gear or crew breakages or just from exhaustion. However we do hope to finish and beat our 16th of 34 in class position from 2 years ago.

You can follow our progress if interested  on yellow brick tracker (app available for mobile or tablets at ) or through the Royal Ocean Yacht Club (RORC) website ). Search for Sheevra and we will come up. We may seem to be close to last in the fleet but that is because we will be one of the smaller and therefore slower boats in the race. Positions at the end are decided on a handicapping system that is generally pretty fair.

Sheevra is a Swan 36 built in Finland and launched in Harwich in 1969. She is number 40 of 90 boats produced to the design by the foremost nautical architect for sailing yachts of the last century, Olin Stephens. They won every trophy in sight when first introduced in 1967 and started a marque of high quality racer cruisers that continues to this day. She is both fast and beautiful and still turns heads for her classic lines. Although she will be one of the oldest boats in the race we hope to give everyone a run for their money. 

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About the charity

MPN Voice leads the way in supporting people with rare blood cancers called Myeloproliferative Neoplasms (MPNs), with accurate information and emotional support. We're funding research toward better treatments and one day a cure. Most importantly we offer hope to those affected by MPNs.

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