In 2012, at the age of 58, well known Cruising Yacht Club of Australia offshore racer Warwick Sherman contested his first Sydney Hobart – it was on his bucket list after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin mantle cell lymphoma in June 2010.
Winning Division 2 was more than the Sydney skipper could have hoped for. However, Sherman was still weakened from chemo and the cancer. “I felt I didn’t pull my weight – let the crew down a bit – so I decided to repay them by doing the race again in 2014 when I was fit again.”
Unfortunately that ended in disappointment when Occasional Coarse Language Too retired from the Rolex Sydney Hobart on the afternoon of the start, a stiff southerly causing steering damage to his Ker GTS 43. There were other casualties that day too.
Now it’s all about second chances. You see, Sherman was told in 2015 that the lymphoma had returned after being assured he was in long term remission.
“The doctor was surprised it came back three years later,” Sherman said. “They put me on Ibrutinib, a trial drug for 15 months. After that, I had to go through chemo again, but not for as long, or intense as last time.”
Having lymphoma a second time meant Sherman could not use his own stem cells again, so his older brother, a perfect match, donated some.
“If I get to two years with no signs of the blood cancer, I’ll be cured – otherwise, my future will be unknown. Right now I feel alright, I just get a little tired sometimes,” says Sherman, who looks the picture of health.
So he decided it was time for second chances – a second chance at life and a second chance to finish the race left unfinished in 2014. And it is a chance to raise the profile of the Snowdome Foundation that has become so important.
So the yachtsman has renamed his boat Snowdome Occasional Coarse Language Too and in doing so, is raising awareness and funds for the cause.
“People are asking me why, at 63, I am doing the race again. I say ‘I don’t know if I need an oncologist or a psychiatrist, but I feel I the need to do it to give back via Snowdome’, which is dedicated to improving outcomes for Australians with blood cancer,” he explains.
The Foundation was formed in 2010 by Grant Rutherford in Melbourne, after his nine year-old daughter died from blood cancer.
“She loved snowdomes, that’s how the name came about. Grant wanted to do something about raising money for research. They held a big dinner early this year and raised over $500,000,” says Sherman who came to Snowdome three and a half years ago through a mate with the same blood disease.
“Snowdome is a group of companies whose people get together, have lunches and donate money. I support them financially as well using the name on my boat. Costs are kept low, so 85 percent plus goes direct to research,” says the yachtsman, who has become the unofficial ambassador for NSW.
Back to the Rolex Sydney Hobart, Sherman says: “I’m looking forward to the race with some trepidation. I’m a believer in surrounding yourself with good people (they include 1998 overall winner, Ed Psaltis who takes on his 36th Sydney Hobart this year) and even if I’m the weakest, I will go – I am determined.”
The Boxing Day start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will be broadcast live on the Seven Network throughout Australia.
Full list of entries and all information: http://rolexsydneyhobart.com/
By Di Pearson, RSHYR media