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Ocean Challenge 2024

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Ocean Challenge 2024 - Applications for this year's Ocean Challenge are now open for both Veterans and Buddies

The Sports Habilitation Ocean Challenge is a fantastic opportunity for Veterans to link in with the charity and start on a path of support and guidance on offer through the charity. It is an action packed week in a fully supported environment.

Below is a review from last year's Ocean Challenge to give you a little taste of this fantastic challenge!

"Earlier this year the fantastic Ocean Challenge 2023 took place on the South Coast. The week saw 4 yachts with crews containing 17 Veterans, 4 Buddies and 4 Skippers work together to tackle the challenge and have a positive week.  The teams were all supported by a further yacht and rescue boats, fantastic land crew and a dedicated mental health specialist to make sure that the Veterans were well supported.

This year’s Veterans taking part were battling physical and mental injuries, so even getting there was a challenge, but they did it!  On arrival in Gosport, everyone was shown to their yacht and introduced to their Skipper and Buddy. It can feel an overwhelming time arriving at a new location, especially when dealing with physical and mental health challenges, so the team were on hand to help everyone settle in, to make sure they had what they needed, but give them a little time to recover from the journey too.

Within the first few days of the Ocean Challenge, Veterans were working in teams and had really embraced the challenge.  The importance of team work really came through and along with the fact that everyone was sharing a cockpit for 10 hours or more each day, really helped people to talk and open up.  The Veterans having the shared interest of the Ocean Challenge and experiences really helped them to bond well in a short space of time enabling them to get so much out of the event.

The first 4 days of the Ocean Challenge were spent sailing between the Isle of Wight and the mainland, resting overnight in beautiful ports:  Yarmouth, Newtown Creek, Beaulieu River and the Hamble. This was a challenging time for many, as they got used to moving around the boats in a manner that suited them best, got used to working as part of a crew, and for many, this was their first taste of sailing - so they were in at the deep end!                     …metaphorically, not literally…thankfully!

On the Thursday the crews had their first practice race!  This was a nerve racking time, but the perfect opportunity to put all of their new found skills into practice. This is a great chance for each Veteran to really see how far they have come, to build their confidence and start to see what they are capable of again - a confidence so commonly lost after career ending injuries and illness turn their live’s upside down.

The evening before the Round The Island Race saw the crews have a very special dinner at the Sir Max Aitken Museum, Prospect House in Cowes - not too late a night as an early start was needed for the race.  

Up early on the Saturday, ready for the Round The Island Race 2023, which turned  out to be 11 hours of adrenaline fuelled action! 

The start and finish of the race were particularly challenging as the Solent was full of 1200 yachts, all sailing at very close quarters to the SWV Teams. Unfortunately, one of our boats - Solar Wind, got T boned by another yacht. Solar Wind was a completely innocent party in the accident but sadly had to withdraw due to the damage to the deck - as you can imagine, this was very disappointing for the crew.  

Over 1200 yachts took part and the 3 remaining SWV Teams came in the top 25% of finishers!

Adelaide Star came 347th; Emerald Star came 373rd; and, Elizabeth Star came 406th!  This is an amazing result considering many of the Veterans had learnt to sail for the first time that week!"

Though the week was challenging in different ways for each Veteran facing their own challenges, there was still much laughter, hard work, team work, lots of talking, the therapeutic benefits of the sea, plenty of wind - resulting in a very special event.

At the end of the Ocean Challenge, each Veteran was given a Mentor who will support them on the next steps of their recovery…

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