24-hour sailing race a breeze for Cooks Hill couple

Shaun Lewicki.

Shaun Lewicki.

Kelly White and Justin Henderson needed no extra motivation to compete in the charity sailing race Heaven Can Wait.

SUPPORT: The Heaven Can Wait sailing event on Lake Macquarie this weekend will have particular resonance for Kelly White and husband Justin Henderson.

SUPPORT: The Heaven Can Wait sailing event on Lake Macquarie this weekend will have particular resonance for Kelly White and husband Justin Henderson.

They both love to sail. But the event charity also has particular resonance for the Cooks Hill couple.

The Heaven Can Wait regatta will be held this weekend out of Royal Motor Yacht Club, Toronto, and raises funds for the Home Help Program, run by Cancer Council NSW to provide domestic support to recovering cancer patients.

Henderson, 48, is a cancer survivor and the pair know all too well the importance of home care for cancer patients.

They both needed extended time off work through his treatment and recovery.

White prepared all of her husband’s meals and supported him at home through the challenging time, but they both saw patients who had no support.

“There are lots of fundraisers for cancer research but hardly any for care in the home. It is so important and It really does help recovery,” White said.

The pair will be on board Emmenar for the gruelling 24-hour sailing race as part of the Heaven Can Wait regatta on Lake Macquarie and 42-year-old White cannot wait to do it again after her first experience of an overnight race last year.

“I was the only foredeck crew last year so I didn’t sleep but this year there will be another lady so it’s possible, if it’s calm,” White said.

Both grew up around boats but did not rediscover their affinity with sailing until doing a learn-to-sail course over a decade ago. 

“I absolutely love sailing … it’s beautiful,” White said. 

“You’ve got these really intense moments of major adventure and major physical work and it’s really full on. When that’s finished and you're just sitting there, it’s peaceful and quiet and divine.

“Last year was the first time I have done proper night sailing and it was just magnificent.”

Last year was the first time I have done proper night sailing and it was just magnificent. - Kelly White

It will be the 11th year that the Heaven Can Wait Regatta is held, and more than 100 boats are expected to take part in the sailing program, which includes the One-Lap Dash, a 12-hour race, and the challenging 24-hour race.

The three-day regatta is part of Lakefest.

Heaven Can Wait was the brainchild of Lake Macquarie resident, keen sailor and cancer survivor Shaun Lewicki, who said: “For the third consecutive year, the race has enabled over 200 families affected by cancer to receive in-home support to remove some of the stress associated with a cancer diagnosis.”

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