Photo: Greg Pugh hangs out with the crew of the new 100-foot supermaxi Comanche.
Greg Pugh is currently racing in the Rolex Sydney-Hobart event, which began December 26. He is racing on “Wot Eva” a TP52 owned and operated by Sailors with disABILITIES. You can learn more about the organization at: http://www.sailorswithdisabilities.com/wot-eva-new. Greg Pugh (GP) was kind enough to take time to answer questions posed by Oceans of Hope, as he traveled to Sydney for the start of the race. You can follow the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race at: http://www.rolexsydneyhobart.com/.
OOH: We hear you are doing the Sydney Hobart race. On what type of boat? Have you done the race before?
GP: Wot Eva is a TP52, I only started sailing keel boats after I saw Oceans of Hope on Facebook so my first race was in August of this year. No I haven't done a Sydney to Hobart before.
OOH: Are you intimidated by the history of the race and the notorious rough weather?
GP: No I'm not overly intimidated by the history of the race. I have followed the race for years and read many books of solo circumnavigations as well. I have over 1200nm under me since this all began as well as talking to several people who have seen the sea at its worst. I've done my homework.
OOH: What are your expectations for sailing with Oceans of Hope?
GP: I hoped that I could get a long leg in the Pacific and it appears that is happening. I've been asked to do the leg from Samoa to Auckland, New Zealand which excites me more and more as I think longer about it. It's an awesome feeling hearing about it in the final stages of preparing for Hobart.
OOH: What do you find rewarding about sailing?
GP: My past sailing has been all about getting around the course the fastest, which is why I liked skippering 18 footer's. Ocean sailing has changed me a bit as I now like the new experience and the feeling of being free and distant from the boring day to day life on land.
OOH: How long have you been living with MS and how does it affect your sailing?
GP: I was diagnosed in December '08 after I originally went to get my eyes checked. The optometrist gave me some tests then sent me to an eye doctor. He ran more tests and then sent me for an MRI. I received a letter in the mail stating my neurosurgeon's appointment and my neurologist appointments were made. I rang and asked what was wrong and they told me I had a brain tumor and they thought I might have MS (over the phone). Before all the tests were done I ended up in the hospital and diagnosed. I didn't work or sail after that point. I met my girlfriend Susan (who also has MS) and she got me into taking disabled kids sailing in Hanse 303 dinghies. A change of medication (Tecfidera) earlier this year allowed me to be more active (sailing yachts). I have weakness in my left side, including my left eye. I also have trouble with my balance, so I didn't know how I would go. Now, after sailing so much, my weakness has improved and my balance doesn't seem to affect me as bad as I thought it might. I soon realized "I can do this" and I haven't stopped. It's just crazy! I never imagined I could be doing all this and enjoying life again at a level no one dares to dream of.
Merry Christmas to all at Oceans of Hope and I wish safe sailing for all of her crew past, present and future.
OOH: Thank you Greg, and good luck in the race!