by Tony Carter, Finding Freedom Luncheon Coordinator
Our 2023 Finding Freedom luncheon was held on Friday 26 August and with thanks to the generosity of members of RPYC, Sailability WA and our many guests, the luncheon exceeded all expectations.
The day commenced with the formal naming of the new Liberty Dinghy, as “Rob Carter” in recognition of the special donation made at Finding Freedom 2022 by the Rob Carter Memorial Foundation. This boat is fully equipped with special servos to help sailors with limited arm and hand control or strength to sail the boat competitively. We look forward to seeing the Rob Carter on many podiums in the future, sailed by Sailability WA members.
Generous financial donations in the lead up to the lunch came in regularly. Immediately after Sailability WA President, Gary Griffiths’ welcome to Finding Freedom 2023, two of our well known RPYC members opened the day with significant cash donations. This generosity extended to the many suppliers who either provided goods and services at no charge or at heavily reduced pricing. It allowed us to put on a fantastic lunch in a great party atmosphere with maximum funds going to the Sailability WA program.
MC Craig Ibbitson took charge and kept the pace and the fun going flat out from midday to 5:00pm. What a job, carried out professionally with just a hint of the mischievous.
Our first Guest speaker – Skip Lissiman of Australia II fame spoke about his experiences in the lead up to and running of the 1983 America’s Cup win over America on the waters of Rhode Island USA. Very entertaining and just a glimpse into the many stories, told and untold coming from this historic era in our sailing history. I suggest you book for the 26th September Australia II GALA Dinner at RPYC – it will be an awesome night when you meet and hear from the Australia II team. Thank you Skip for your time, stories, and generosity.
Our second speaker was Lorelle Hughes – an unbelievably inspirational person. Lorelle suffered a stroke leaving her physically debilitated yet the one thing the stroke could not impact, was her attitude to winning. Lorelle spoke of her determination to walk and be active in the most positive and winning way possible. She initially started with South of Perth Yacht Club Sailability program then transferred to the Sailability WA Program at RPYC. Her bravery and message left all in attendance in awe. Lorelle epitomises the Purpose of Sailability WA. We thank you for your time and for sharing your story.
We set a target of raising funds to assist with the HANSA Dinghy renewal program, to allow us to offer boats to new Sailability programs in Western Australia and to be able to provide funding grants to send people like Genevieve Wickham to national and international events. By the way, on the day of the lunch we received news – Genevieve just won the World Championship with crewman Grant Alderson! This news was followed by rapturous applause.
As the day infolded my confidence lifted and the donations at the start helped my focus. Paul Carter from the Rob Carter Memorial Trust came and spoke quietly to me “If you can get $10,000 in donations between 3:00pm and close at 4:00pm the Rob Carter Memorial Trust will donate funds for the two HANSA Dinghies”. This offer was totally unexpected, however as I announced the challenge to our guests, hands started going up and we quickly achieved the target. Job done – we can now order two (2) new HANSA 303s and donate two of our existing fleet to the start-up Sailability program at Geraldton Yacht Club.
A lot of what happens at this lunch is secret participant business however I can assure you, all left having enjoyed massive entertainment, fantastic spirit and fellowship, as well as many with significant prizes and auction items.
This story ends with a VERY happy Sailability WA Team. We simply cannot express enough thanks to all those who gave time, goods, money, or themselves to this incredible cause. The generosity of RPYC, its members and our Sailability WA guests is amazing. Special thanks to the Sailability Team who all attended on the day and helped make it a success.
But the story is not complete until we tell you the result – Finding Freedom Fundraising Campaign 2023 raised just short of $100,000.
A heartfelt, THANK YOU to all who attended and donated including our dedicated volunteers for your support on the day and beyond!
Thank you to our sponsors: