Name: Joanna Breen
What is your dream?
In March, 2018, I will be living my dream to compete in the Melbourne to Osaka Double Handed Yacht Race with the only all-female crew. This is a 5500NM non stop sailing marathon that occurs every four years, and is one of the most challenging corinthian ocean yacht races in the world. To get to the finish line will mean at least 45 continuous days at sea, racing up the East Coast of Australia, through the Tradewinds, enduring the dreaded doldrums, and finally through the shipping lanes and challenging currents of Japan.
Tell us a bit about you.
As a 12 year-old I began sailing my first dinghy, and immediately fell in love with the sport. What I lacked in skill, I made up for in commitment and passion and never missed an opportunity to get out on the water. I left Tasmania to go to Gibraltar to complete an RYA Offshore Yachtmaster certificate with commercial endorsement. This was an intensive 16 week course which gave me the skills to commercially sail yachts around the world, and launched a four year adventure working professionally in the sailing industry.
How have you demonstrated commitment?
I returned home to Tasmania after these adventures with a 100% commitment to entering the 2018 Melbourne to Osaka Yacht race in my own yacht as an all female team. I was able to save the funds working in the sailing industry to buy a small, 34ft yacht built in 1984 called Morning Star which with work will be capable of completing the race. So far I have replaced all the electronics, hatches, port lights, and fitted new water tight bulkheads. In order to fund this I currently work 50 hours a week over two jobs.
What challenges do you face?
Any yachtsman will tell you that the greatest challenge for any big race is getting to the start line. The amount of work to be done at times is overwhelming, but I am trying to work through it methodically. As I go through each system of the yacht, I find new issues to be overcome, and solutions are not always simple. Whilst yacht racing is an inherently expensive sport, my campaign is a shoestring budget compared to the other teams involved. I achieve this by doing a lot of the work on the yacht myself.
How will you use the money?
Currently, the two biggest hurdles before the start line of the Melbourne to Osaka Race are time and money. In order to fund the project, I have to put in more hours at work, which then pulls me away from training and working on the yacht. The grant would go directly into the building of the new mast, of which I am currently beginning the designing phase. This is a necessity for the campaign to ensure the greatest level of safety.
How do you plan to give back?
I aspire to become a person who builds up other people and fosters self belief. I currently volunteer in a few different programs within the community and aim to be able to do more of this after the Melbourne to Osaka. I also volunteer each week with the Launceston Sailability organisation, where I skipper a yacht for people of various levels of ability for sailing sessions on the river. I have also recently been an invited speaker at the Launceston Rotary Club, and would like to do more public speaking after the race.