23 November 2012: A friendship spanning more than three decades and the globe, and a promise, will bring together a very special entry for this year’s UON SB20 World Championships at Hamilton Island, December 12 – 20.
In October last year UK sailor Andy Oddie flew from London to Sydney to attend the funeral for his best mate Freddie Blencke’s three year-old son Harry. On that day the pair made a two-part pact to honour Harry and continue his memory; create a charity and team up to compete at this year’s UON SB20 World Championships.
Alongside their worlds preparation, Sydney based yachtsman Freddie Blencke will tomorrow launch a major fundraising effort to support Taronga Zoo’s new Lemur Forest Adventure exhibit.
On December 14, the same day the online auction finishes, Blencke and Oddie will fulfill their pledge when they line up at Hamilton Island with the rest of the UON SB20 World Championship fleet.
Since Harry’s death, the result of a tragic accident, Blencke and his family and friends have taken steps to ensure the little boy’s legacy lives on.
Oddie and regular crewmember Guy Jackson have named their SB20 ‘Harry’ and will soon be en route to Australia to team up with Blencke in Sydney. The trio will then head to Hamilton Island to race under a UK flag against an international fleet of up to 45 one-design sports boats.
“Andy wanted to give me something to look forward to over the ensuing 15 months so he came up with the idea of naming the boat, then we agreed to race for a charity to honour Harry’s life,” said Blencke.
Recently crowned ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year and Olympic sailor, Ben Ainslie, has thrown his support behind the idea; “I have known Freddie and Andy for many years and think it’s fantastic that they are working to raise funds for the Lemur in honour of Freddie’s son, Harry,” said Ainslie.
“It’s great to see two old friends back doing what they love on the water.”
Tomorrow, Saturday 24th November, marks the start of the online auction for the interactive Lemur exhibit which is under construction at Sydney’s iconic Taronga Zoo, a place that will eventually become a focus for the family’s loss and a lasting legacy for Harry’s older brother, Christo.
“Harry absolutely loved animals and his favourite show was David Attenborough’s Life,” said Blencke. “Most of all he loved going to Taronga Zoo, where I took him to for his third birthday, just a few days before he left us.
“We are raising funds for the beautiful Lemur, a charismatic and playful creature whose habitat has been severely compromised in its homeland of Madagascar and as a consequence a number of Lemur species are now endangered.”
If more than $150,000 is raised, Taronga Zoo will name the Lemur Forest Adventure mascot ‘Harry’, in perpetuity.
The online auction will be held from Saturday November 24 – Friday December 14. To bid on an item go to Harry’s Lemur Forest Adventure online auction at http://www.32auctions.com/organizations/5327/auctions/5911
To donate directly to Harry’s Lemur Forest Adventure via the Taronga Foundation (tax deductible over $2), go to http://personalchallenge.gofundraise.com.au/page/BlenckeF
Oddie and Blencke first started competing against each other in the 420 class at 14 years of age in the UK, Blencke having moved from Stockholm to London with his family where he remained for 21 years before relocating to Sydney 10 years ago.
Oddie remained in the UK, moving into Lasers, Etchells, Melges and finally SB20s while Blencke opted for Lasers, J24s and Melges and is now a regular crewman on the Sydney based Farr 400, Ichi Ban, which won its division at this year’s Audi Hamilton Island Race Week.
The 2012 UON SB20 World Championships will be the first time the SB20 class has held its world title in the southern hemisphere. The Whitsunday battle will be staged from December 12th – 20th, racing will commence on the 14th.
Entry and entry list at http://www.hamiltonisland.com.au/sb20-world-championship-entry-information