Tamworth woman sets sail for adventure of a lifetime

TAMWORTH woman Denise Bruschweiler is about to achieve a dream. 

On Boxing Day she will be among the hundreds of eager yachties to climb aboard for a journey across the Tasman in the country’s famous annual boat race, the Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. 

Being accepted, following an interview process, as a crew member on Merit, has been a dream of the 57-year-old’s since she first set sail with her father in an 11-foot dinghy at the tender age of 10. 

“Through a friend of a friend of a friend I was able to get an interview to become a crew member,” she said.

The interview included questions about Ms Bruschweiler’s sailing career and her qualifications. 

Ms Bruschweiler, a member of the Lake Keepit Sailing Club, and one part of the only all-girl crew at the club – along with fellow female sailor Kathy See-Kee – has been training for a long time to achieve her dream but over recent months has upped her schedule. 

“I have been sailing regularly, not only at Keepit but in Sydney and up the coast at Moreton Bay as part of my training,” she said. 

Sailing in Sydney will become more frequent over the coming weeks, in the lead- up to the race. 

“I’ve also been undertaking a gym program to improve upper body strength,” she said. 

Part of the gym program, at Tamworth’s Rural Fit, has required regular gym equipment to be modified to help simulate the equipment on the 60ft yacht. 

“Rather then hop on the bike and pedal with my feet I have been pedalling with my hands to make sure I am used to the way different equipment on a much larger yacht will work,” she said. 

Initially Ms Bruschweiler kept her involvement on the yacht and acceptance into the crew a secret from her family. 

“I didn’t want to say anything until I was sure I had been successful,” she said.  “They were all quite shocked when I told them. Some people might think I’m too old but I think I’m proof if you have a dream and you work toward it you can get there.”

When asked about the dangers that are often associated with the other race that stops the nation, Ms Bruschweiler said with 19 sleeps, as of last Friday, to go the forecast was promising. 

“It’s always dangerous but we have a good crew and early predictions suggest conditions will be okay,” she said. 

While on board Ms Bruschweiler will be one of 15 crew. 

It will be all hands on deck for the start of the race, which kicks off at 1pm on Boxing Day. 

For the next few days, while the 78 boats are racing across the Tasman Sea, the crew is likely to be split into three groups of five which will rotate watches at different intervals. 

Ms Bruschweiler said she hoped the Merit, which has previously competed in the Sydney to Hobart in 2001 and 2002, would land in Hobart three days later on December 29.

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