A FORMER Tamworth man will embark on a sailing adventure around the country today with three ambitious goals in sight – to raise $10,000 for Cancer Council Queensland and setting two world records at the same time.
Today at 10am, Len Surtees will set sail from Tin Can Bay (near Fraser Island) on an unassisted, non-stop trip around Australia ina nine-metre folding catamaran of his own design, named Zeavard.
While the 7000 nautical mile (or nearly 13,000km) trip would first and foremost be a fundraising venture, the 62-year-old said it would also earn him a place in the Guiness Book of World Records for both the smallest boat to circumnavigate Australia and the oldest sailor to circumnavigate Australia solo.
Cancer is an issue close to Mr Surtees’ heart – he was given the grim prognosis of only six weeks to live after being struck with an aggressive bowel cancer.
But 25 years after receiving that news he is still kicking on and living life to the full.
“We need a fair dinkum challenge in life,” Mr Surtees said.
“I don’t mind getting out of my comfort zone to achieve a goal.”
Ahead of his trip, Mr Surtees told The Leader he was too busy preparing to think much about what he might face during the 50 to 60 days he’d be at sea.
“I’ll be looking forward to casting off and getting under way, and I’ll have a big sigh of relief, and then I’ll think about the journey,” he said.
Along the way he’ll feast on soups, packet noodles and freeze-dried food, and catch short bursts of shut-eye between working the boat.
His only contact with other people will be through occasional conversations on a satellite phone.
Now living on the Sunshine Coast, Mr Surtees spent most of his young adulthood in Tamworth and is the man who built the Golden Guitar.
This sailing trip isn’t his first – that was in 1973 when he built his first boat in his backyard in Vancouver and sailed to Mexico.
Mr Surtees also designed the first re-rightable ocean-going trimaran in 1980, which went on to carry Welsh adventurer Tristan Jones around the world.
To donate to Mr Surtees’ cause, visit www.icanforcancer.org.au and search for Len Surtees.