Friday, September 12, 2014

Cornish Pilot Boats will Circumnavigate Singapore for Mission to Seafarers

Once Again the Maritime Community Pledges Support to Charity
Shipping News Feature

SINGAPORE – UK – A group of 40 enthusiasts from the maritime and insurance community in the Southeast Asian city-state of Singapore have come together to undertake a 24 hour endurance sea challenge, all in aid of the global maritime welfare charity, The Mission to Seafarers. Mission Row Around Singapore Island (RASI), involves two replica 19th Century Cornish Pilot Boats being rowed over 140km, taking on the seas and shipping lanes (not to mention two live military firing ranges) to complete a non-stop circumnavigation of the island of Singapore. The event itself will be held during the 50th anniversary year of Singapore’s independence and coincides with Singapore Maritime Week on 22 April 2015.

Mission RASI officially launched in London on September 11 with a very special fundraising dinner for supporters and guests, hosted by Norton Rose Fulbright LLP and The Mission to Seafarers. The yachting legend Pete Goss MBE was the headline speaker and His Excellency the Deputy High Commissioner of Singapore, Mr Chia Wei Wen, attended as special guest of honour. Andrew Wright, Secretary General, The Mission to Seafarers, said:

"I am absolutely delighted we have been chosen as the charity for Mission RASI. The Mission is very active in support of seafarers in the great port of Singapore, visiting crews on board ships, welcoming them into our newly opened Jurong Port International Drop-in Centre and supporting them through some of the many challenges they face.

"Raising funds for our work is extremely challenging and we are deeply grateful to the RASI team for their enthusiasm and drive to get this project off the ground. Seafarers need our help; their work is often dangerous and demanding. Our service to them meets very real need and it changes thousands of lives for the better. We currently work in 71 countries in 260 ports every day and are determined to ensure that we are present wherever we are needed. On behalf of all of us at Mission to Seafarers, and all the seafarers who will be helped as a result of your efforts and generosity, please accept our profound thanks and very best wishes."

The original idea for undertaking this momentous challenge was born from a friendship between Ian Teare (Norton Rose Fulbright, Singapore), Iain Anderson (RPC, Singapore), and Lewis Hart (Willis, Singapore). The idea quickly captured the imagination of many others from within the maritime and insurance community in Singapore and London. Ian Teare said:

"We are all involved in the marine and insurance industries and many of us see first-hand, in our professional roles, the hardships and isolation that seafarers endure in their day to day lives. There is a strong feeling among the members of Mission RASI, therefore, that we should do our bit to support the seafaring community. Supporting The Mission to Seafarers to do their good work around the world is an ideal way to deliver our support. We are hoping to inspire people to donate generously and to raise the profile of this great charity, The Mission to Seafarers. It is also a great way to mark the 50th Birthday of Singapore."

The RASI team also involves Captain Lee Wai Pong of the Singapore Chamber of Maritime Arbitration, Branch Chairman of The Mission to Seafarers Singapore, and Captain Fred Francis of the Singapore Maritime Academy. In addition to training hard for the rigours of the challenge, the group have planned significant fundraising activities at home and abroad which will aim to raise £375,000 for the charity supporting seafarers in need around the world.

Those behind Mission RASI have been keen from the outset to make it an entirely self-funded challenge so that 100% of all donations go to The Mission to Seafarers. Each rower is required to make a personal contribution to the costs of the event and this has been supplemented by donations from Brookes Bell, The North of England P&I Association, Norton Rose Fulbright LLP, RPC, and Willis.

Other companies have brought their skills and services to bear to aid the cause – NYK Line are shipping the boats from the UK to Singapore and Catlin Insurance are providing the insurance cover for that passage, both without charge to Mission RASI. The boats’ builders, Composite Integration, had gone to great lengths to have one of the boats put on display in London for the launch event, again in their own time and at their own expense. Iain Anderson said:

"I know it sounds a bit of a daft idea but it'll be great fun. As we started to talk to our friends and colleagues in the market we got a core group of people together who were keen to take part- both in the boats and in a support flotilla. We have a training squad of over 40 rowers and 20 crew in support. It is a serious challenge. Each rower will have to do six two-hour rowing shifts as the boats make their way round the island. Heading out into the Straits of Singapore - one of the busiest stretches of water on the planet - in the midday tropical heat is going to be a toughie.

"But that is what it is all about - pushing ourselves hard so that we raise a lot of money for the Mission. We also want to get people involved and excited about the challenge. Once our boats arrive here in November we'll be holding a range of fundraising events across the island so please get in touch to show us your support."