The Sailing Sclerosis Foundation’s yacht Oceans of Hope has been unveiled at a ceremony in Copenhagen, Denmark on World MS Day (Wednesday 28 May). Former Environment Minister and MEP Lone Dybkjær became the yacht’s Godmother as she officially named the 20-metre yacht which will set sail from the Danish capital on Sunday 15 June on the first ever global circumnavigation crewed by people with multiple sclerosis (MS).
Oceans of Hope is a Sailing Sclerosis Foundation project that aims to change perceptions of the disease, inspiring people with MS to overcome their own personal challenges by telling the stories of those taking part – including the highs and the lows – and hosting sailing events in ports of call during the 17-month voyage. The project is made possible by Biogen Idec, the principal sponsor and official partner of the Sailing Sclerosis Foundation and the Oceans of Hope campaign.
Speaking at the ceremony at the Royal Danish Yacht Club in bright spring sunshine, Lone Dybkjær said, “Today, we are focusing on joy and hope – just as we would when we christen a child.
"The joy of an idea that, through action and cooperation between many different people, becomes reality; the joy of being able to provide a unique experience to people with multiple sclerosis. And the hope, again through cooperation between many different people: in industry, in research laboratories, in hospitals, and those living with multiple sclerosis working together to crack the code of the disease and thereby to heal and prevent it in the future.
"It is the joy and the hope that we send out into the world on this World MS Day."
Dr Mikkel Anthonisen is the founder of the Sailing Sclerosis Foundation and creator of Oceans of Hope. He said, "Today’s naming ceremony is a huge milestone in our project. Our plan to sail around the world with a crew of people with MS is another step closer to being realised. We will be carrying the hopes and dreams of so many people with us. From the modest beginning when we took a small group of people sailing, it shows what can be achieved when people with a chronic disease are empowered to conquer their individual challenges."
Dr Anthonisen added, "We are extremely grateful to Lone Dybkjær for supporting us today by naming the yacht. We would also like to thankBiogen Idec, our official partner of the project, a company that for more than 30 years has been committed to the MS community."
Oceans of Hope has been named on World MS Day, the theme for which this year is Access. The project will encourage participation in sailing as the yacht makes its way around the world.
Torben Damsgaard, Deputy Director of Scleroseforeningen, commented, "Very many people worldwide will envy those people with multiple sclerosis who have the opportunity to sail and work for a few weeks on the boat. How many of us have not dreamed of sailing around the world? Now, for some of those people for whom the dream may have seemed very far away, it is suddenly possible. That's what makes Sailing Sclerosis a great project. Not only for the brave and lucky people with multiple sclerosis sailing on board, but also as a beacon for many other people with MS around the world who will be following the project."
Setting sail from Copenhagen on 15 June, Oceans of Hope will visit approximately 30 ports, the first of which are Kiel, Germany (19–22 June), Portsmouth, UK (3–6 July), La Rochelle, France (11–14 July), Lisbon, Portugal (25 July–2 August) and Boston, USA, arriving on 8 September. The rest of the route will take in the east coast of the USA, the Caribbean, Panama Canal, across the Pacific Ocean via the Galapagos Islands to Australia, on to South Africa, Brazil and back to Europe.
Berths are available throughout the voyage. For more information and to apply, download the application forms here.
Biogen Idec is the official partner of Oceans of Hope. David Allsop, Senior Vice President Europe and Canada, said, “We are proud to be part of the Oceans of Hope project which fits perfectly with our more than three-decade programme commitment to supporting the MS community through innovative science and patient programmes.
"Treatment of MS needs to be holistic – incorporating the right therapies with community programmes and resources. Through its messages of hope and empowerment, we believe that Oceans of Hope can benefit thousands of patients around the world."
Oceans of Hope will set sail from Amaliehaven, Copenhagen at 1630 on 15 June.