Mates prepare to set sail

Spirits are high as defence personnel prepare to set sail in Sydney to Hobart challenge

KEEP an eye out for this year’s Sydney to Hobart yacht race, as a former army sergeant from Two Wells is braving the race onboard the Spirit of Mateship.

Craig Hansen was selected along with six other ex-defence personnel to participate in the race, which is held annually on Boxing Day.

Through Mates4Mates, a program which provides support to injured, ill and wounded current and ex-defence personnel, Mr Hansen will take part in the three-day event.

Mr Hansen sustained horrific injuries to his feet, ankles and right arm after his vehicle ran over a roadside bomb in Afghanistan in November 2008.

The 39-year-old father of three has endured 14 surgeries since being injured and said he’s only just starting to get his life back on track.

Mr Hansen still calls the experience amazing and he feels lucky to be here today after enduring his injuries.

“It was really good to do the job that you’ve been trained to do,” he said.

“Rather than just training and training, getting to do your job is an amazing feeling.”

The boat will have seven crew members for the 630 nautical mile journey, and will set sail from Sydney Harbour.

After being selected to participate, Craig and the crew have been sharpening their sailing skills.

“We’ve been sailing for the second half of this year,” he said.

Mr Hansen has served in the Australian Defence Force for 15 years and was deployed to Timor twice and Afghanistan for two months.

“Both times in Timor we were in the thick of it,” he said.

Mr Hansen has since competed in boat races around Australia, and his crew was the outright winner of the Magnetic Island race.

He is currently in Brisbane for a practice race from Brisbane to Sydney before setting sail on Boxing Day. Although the race is held in our summer, there are often southerly buster storms, which make the race cold and bumpy.

The Spirit of Mateship and its unique crew captured the imagination of Australia last year when it first entered the blue water classic and won in its division.

Mr Hansen is currently raising money for the Mates4Mates soldiers, sailors and airmen so they can have the same opportunities as he has.

His goal is to raise $5000 and you can donate via https://mates4matessydneytohobartyachtraceadventurechallenge2014.everydayhero.com/au/craig-hansen

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