Offshore adventure to raise funds

UP FOR IT: Rebecca Hayter is one of 30 so far who have signed up for the 2014 Yamaha Melanoma Foundation Ski-nZ, which starts in Takaka.
UP FOR IT: Rebecca Hayter is one of 30 so far who have signed up for the 2014 Yamaha Melanoma Foundation Ski-nZ, which starts in Takaka.

Boating New Zealand editor and former Golden Bay woman Rebecca Hayter is part of a team of hardy boaties set to tackle a 600-kilometre coastal odyssey starting in Takaka, and coming to Nelson in March.

She is one of about 25 so far who have signed up for the 2014 Yamaha Melanoma Foundation Ski-nZ and who will be riding personal watercrafts around the top of the South Island and across Cook Strait to Wellington.

On the way they will be raising funds to help the Melanoma Foundation to increase awareness about prevention, treatment and research of melanoma in New Zealand, and to help care for people with the disease.

Ms Hayter, who lost a cousin last year from melanoma and whose father also died of cancer, in which skin cancer was a contributing factor, said she was ready for the challenge of the ride she predicted would be tough.

She is an experienced offshore and coastal sailor, and knows the area they will be traversing well enough to understand its charms and pitfalls.

The riders will navigate the coastline eastbound from Whanganui Inlet [west of Farewell Spit], then on to Takaka, Nelson, French Pass, around d'Urville and Stephens islands, then on to Picton, followed by a Cook Strait crossing to finish in Wellington.

The Yamaha Melanoma Foundation Ski-nZ is now in its second year. It was spearheaded by world-record personal water craft (PWC) holder Jeremy Burfoot, who has himself had a brush with melanoma. He is the world record holder for the longest distance travelled in 24 hours - 2288 kilometres.

He circumnavigated New Zealand in 2006, and four years later rode from London to Turkey for melanoma sufferers.

Ms Hayter said she decided to do the ride when she interviewed Mr Burfoot last year. "As soon as he said the ride was going around the top of the South Island, I said, ‘I'll do it.'

"Yamaha immediately offered to provide a Yamaha Waverunner for me to ride, so I was committed."

While the mission to raise awareness of melanoma was an important part of the project, the adventure held equal appeal.

"Melanoma is actually something I'm frightened of myself. I've not always been that great about looking after myself in the sun.

"This is a way of facing that, and of getting me to look after myself better," Ms Hayter said.

Research showed 90 per cent of deaths from melanoma in New Zealand were avoidable, and the campaign aimed to highlight that.

"It's going to be physically demanding. I've read Jeremy's book [The Ride] about his journey around New Zealand, and I think parts of what we're going to do could be pretty challenging.

"The (craft) are really comfortable but some parts may be hard-going, depending on conditions."

Ms Hayter reckoned the stretch across the top of the Marlborough Sounds from French Pass to Picton, was likely to present the biggest challenges, because of the strong currents in the area, headlands and potentially rough water, particularly around Cape Jackson.

She said despite the craft having modern navigation systems she planned to take her own personally prepared navigation charts.

"We'll be riding in groups of 10 but I still want to be self sufficient," she said.

Each participant is required to raise a minimum of $1500 sponsorship to enter. Ms Hayter is raising funds as well as making a personal donation of the equivalent amount.

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