Heaven Can Wait Regatta breaks records with more than $45,000 donations after bumper event | photos, video

Cancer Council's Lauren Dale, vice-commodore Mel Steiner, state MP Greg Piper and Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie's Mal Wadrop appear alongside sponsors at the Heaven Can Wait Charity Sailing Regatta cheque presentation held at Royal Motor Yacht Club, Toronto. Picture: Isaac McIntyre
Cancer Council's Lauren Dale, vice-commodore Mel Steiner, state MP Greg Piper and Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie's Mal Wadrop appear alongside sponsors at the Heaven Can Wait Charity Sailing Regatta cheque presentation held at Royal Motor Yacht Club, Toronto. Picture: Isaac McIntyre

Heaven Can Wait Regatta organisers weren’t sure if the 2018 entry into the history books would be “particularly big” due to a short year overall, but Toronto’s Royal Motor Yacht Club vice-commodore Mel Steiner has revealed it was their “biggest and best year yet”.

The Toronto-event broke its donation milestone by more than $7,000 this year, with $40,000 of the $45,000 total being donated to the Hunter Branch of the Cancer Council, while the remaining $5,000 was donated to Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie.

Independent MP Greg Piper also made a personal donation of $500 to the Cancer Council and $250 to Lake Macquarie Marine Rescue at the event at the Toronto Royal Motor Yacht Club.

“I hope the donations can help [Marine Rescue] deliver safety and services around Lake Macquarie,” Piper said. “It’s fantastic … to see the outcome [here].”

“The fact of the matter is, while we talk about taking on cancer there’s been huge leaps forward in survivability as well as an increase in the quality of life for those who have cancer.

“Everyone involved in the club makes the dream happen, and it couldn’t go on without everyone that steps up to make it happen.”

The event was originally based at Rafferty’s Resort, and then Mannering Park Yacht Club, but since shifting to Royal Motor Yacht Club, Toronto, has taken off.

With popularity ever-increasing, organiser Mel Steiner believes the event can continue to grow year-on-year, especially since breaking records in a year expected to be “rather small”.

“There is now an opportunity to get more people involved, to get their friends, family and associates involved,” Mr Steiner said.

“We have a lot of people that raise money for the event through the Everyday Hero pages, and we had some people this year raise up to $6,000, and some find ways to come in with anything near that. My crew raised $2,500 and it all goes a long way.

“If we get everyone on board with that and make it into a big community drive I think we’ll keep on going and we’ll break records again next year. We had a debrief for last year’s event just [last Monday] and we’ve already established the dates for next year.”

Steiner revealed the regatta will be hosted on the last weekend of February in 2019, which will be February 23-24.

“Everyone involved wants to make the next event even bigger – we had Paul Bennet’s Airshow at the last event and that put a lot of eyes on the club and out on the water, so it got people’s attention,” Steiner said. 

“We’ll be looking for things like that to make it more of a spectacle. That drives a lot of interest and gets more people involved. We’re on the right track and we’ll keep going – there’s a lot of opportunity and appetite and we just have to make it happen.”

Founded by Lake Macquarie yachtsman Shaun Lewicki, the Heaven Can Wait regatta consists of three events including a one lap dash around the lake (about 13 nautical miles), a 12-hour race and the 24-hour race.

If you are interested in getting involved in the regatta, Steiner asked “all willing participants” to contact him through the club on 49592051.