Competitors in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race do the race for many reasons apart from the challenge, with any given number representing a charity or delivering a message to the masses that follow one of the most watched sporting events in the world – and such is the case of Helsal 3, a regular and well-known entry in the 628 nautical mile race.
Helsal 3 has the hashtag #DestinationRural. It provides support and emphasis for the critical challenge of recruitment and retention of doctors and other health care workers to rural and regional Australian communities. This is the message they will carry in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s famous race.
The established Adams 20 is owned by Paul Mara, a 40-year procedural rural doctor from Gundagai in rural NSW and Adrian van der Rijt, a Wagga Wagga orthopaedic surgeon.
Over a number of years (interrupted by COVID) the yachtsmen have sponsored medical students from Wagga Wagga Rural Clinical School to participate at Airlie Beach Race Week (ABRW).
The aim is to build teamwork and resilience in tomorrow’s health care professionals. It is also to show that professional, social, lifestyle and economic opportunities are not limited by practising in a rural or regional community. If anything, they can be enhanced.
Team work came to the fore at ABRW in August, as, much to the delight of all, Helsal 3 won Performance Cruising Division 1. It was a real feather in the team’s cap, as they competed against some heavyweight crews who are regulars at events around Australia.
From the program, at least 10 former graduates have gone on to become rural or regional doctors. Of the 13 students who sailed at ABRW, four have expressed a strong desire to undertake training through the unique and successful Murrumbidgee Local Health District/UNSW Rural Generalist Training Pathway with a view to becoming rural generalist doctors.
Helsal 3’s Rolex Sydney Hobart crew includes Wagga Wagga paediatrician John Preddy, GP Charles Oliver and surgical registrar, Ramandeep Kaur.
Competing in her second Sydney Hobart, Kaur was a medical student at Wagga Wagga when she was encouraged to take up sailing after an ABRW. Charmaine Tate, a New Zealand services medical officer with a huge breadth of medical experience, is back again to run the bow. This is not a job for the faint-hearted.
Mara says, "Our new spinnaker supports the role that the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine plays in training the future generation of rural doctors. It also promotes #DestinationRural supported by the Rural Doctors Association of Australia.
"Both the College and RDAA work to support rural communities recruiting and retaining the doctors with the training, skills and aptitude to meet the health care needs of rural and remote communities."
This year’s Helsal 3 campaign is a mix of international and regional sailors, led by prominent yachtsman, Rob Fisher. Mike Rose is second in charge and Paul Mara is the navigator.
The families consist of John Davis and his sons Jack and Luke, along with Paul Mara’s son-in-law, Ryan Gallagher, and the latter’s father, John Gallagher, who calls Canada and US home. There is also Charles Oliver and his son-in-law Oliver Penn.
The remaining crew members are Bruce Perry, Felicity Macarthur, Andrea Mulchrone, Irina Fedtsenko and John Preddy.
The team has a lot to live up to, as Helsal 3 has performed exceptionally well in the PHS category in recent years. She was fourth on PHS for second in division in 2019, her last Hobart. In 2018, she was third on PHS; third in 2017 to win Division 1, won Division 1 in 2016, and in 2015, was second to win Division 1. Fisher lives in Hobart and prefers to get home quickly.
Whatever the result though, the most significant aspect is to get their message across.
The start of the race will be broadcast live on the Seven Network throughout Australia and live-and-on-demand on the 7Plus app, as well as on the official race website -
- for viewers around the world.
For the full list of entries and more information about the race, visit