Oceans of Hope sailed into the centre of Kiel this afternoon, at the end of the first leg of its historic global voyage for people with multiple sclerosis (MS). The boat will be berthed at Bahnhofskai in the heart of the Germany sailing city until Sunday 22 June.
The yacht left Copenhagen, Denmark, last Sunday, 15 June, at the start of the 61,000-kilometre (33,000-nautical mile) circumnavigation of the world, the first by a crew which includes people who are living with MS. Their mission is to change perceptions of the disease by showing what is possible when people with a chronic disease are empowered to conquer their individual challenges.
Marie Stjernolm, 42, was thrilled to take the helm for several hours to steer the yacht as the crew sailed in brisk conditions through the night on the way to Kiel.
“It was amazing, the best feeling ever,” she said as the crew arrived, windblown and happy, at the British Kiel Yacht Club yesterday morning.
The crew spent the day at the yacht club yesterday to rest and prepare the boat for her arrival in the centre of Kiel this afternoon.
Susanne Salomon, 56, who has been living with MS for 20 years said, “It’s the experience of a lifetime that I will remember forever. I feel so lucky to have been able to sail on board Oceans of Hope.”
Dr Mikkel Anthonisen, 47, a specialist at Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet, is the founder of Sailing Sclerosis Foundation. A doctor, psychotherapist and sailor, he realised the power of involvement in sailing after meeting a patient early in 2013 and began building the dream of sailing around the world with people living with MS.
He said, “It is wonderful to arrive in Kiel and we thank the people here for their warm welcome. We want to change the perceptions of MS by challenging assumptions of what is possible, both in the person living with the disease and in wider society. Oceans of Hope is the torch bearer for the idea of creating networks between the sailing and MS worlds and what better place to meet people from the sailing world than here? It’s very exciting to be here at the same time as the world renowned Kieler Woche.”
Biogen Idec has joined the Sailing Sclerosis Foundation’s campaign, Oceans of Hope, as the Official Partner.
Stefan Schneider, Head of Communications and Media, Biogen Idec Germany, said, “This is a great example for the MS community in Germany to show what is possible when you find a way to follow your dreams. It is wonderful to see the crew, so happy to be working together as part of a team, sailing on board Oceans of Hope. I’m very impressed with what they have been able to achieve in sailing the yacht from Copenhagen to Kiel and I hope it inspires other people to achieve their goals.”
The stopover in Kiel will be followed by visits to Amsterdam, Netherlands (26-29 June), Portsmouth, UK (3-6 July), La Rochelle, France (10-14 July), Lisbon, Portugal (25 July – 2 August) and, after crossing the Atlantic Ocean, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, where the yacht is due to arrive on 8 September. Oceans of Hope will take centre stage at the joint ACTRIMS-ECTRIMS conference, the world’s largest annual international conference devoted to basic and clinical research in multiple sclerosis.
People with MS from all over the world will be taking part in the event. Places are available on board throughout the voyage. To apply, download the application forms.