Oceans of Hope set sail from Copenhagen on a historic global voyage on Sunday 15 June. It is the first ever circumnavigation of the world by a yacht crewed by people with multiple sclerosis (MS).
Oceans of Hope is the flagship of a campaign by the same name, organised by the Sailing Sclerosis Foundation. The aim of the 17-month project is to change perceptions of MS by showing what is possible when people with a chronic disease are empowered to conquer their individual challenges.
The crew who set sail from Amaliehaven this afternoon on the 61,000-kilometre (33,000-nautical mile) voyage have been involved in establishing an active network across Denmark of groups of people with MS who sail on a regular basis. Through sailing events organised during stopovers in the 20 ports of call they want to widen those networks between the MS and the sailing worlds and help create a valuable legacy for the Oceans of Hope project.
The route will take the yacht from Copenhagen to Kiel, Germany, for the first stopover from 19-22 June, followed by Amsterdam, Netherlands (26-29 June), Portsmouth, UK (3-6 July), La Rochelle, France (10-14 July), Lisbon, Portugal (25 July – 2 August) and across the Atlantic Ocean to Boston, Massachusetts, USA, where the crew 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.
Dr Mikkel Anthonisen, 47, a specialist at Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet , is the founder of the 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 the disease.
He said, “Today is a wonderful day. I’m not sure that 18 months ago anyone would have believed that this would be possible, but it just goes to show what can be done when you put your mind to it. Everybody in and around our organisation, including all the crew on board today, has worked so hard as part of the team to get Oceans of Hope ready to sail. They really have done a fantastic job. This shows the world that, ‘yes, we can still do it!’ – even after being diagnosed with a chronic and potential disabling disease.”
Biogen Idec, has joined the Sailing Sclerosis Foundation’s campaign, Oceans of Hope, as the Official Partner.
Anthonisen continues, “We’re very grateful to Biogen Idec for helping to make it possible for us to follow our dream of sailing around the world with a crew of people with MS.”
Oceans of Hope was named in Copenhagen on World MS Day, 28 May, the theme for which this year is access. The project will encourage participation in sailing as the yacht makes its way around the world.
As well as the Danish crew, 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 at sailingsclerosis.com.
The crewmembers’ stories, along with photos and video from on board the boat during the voyage, will be posted here on sailingsclerosis.com/oceansofhope, facebook.com/OceansofHope, on Twitter @sailsclerosis and on Instagram.com/OceansofHope