Lost his father last year now he will sail to his memory

A teenage sailor is planning to become the youngest person to sail single-handed across the English Channel.

Oliver Hancox, from Devon, is just 14 but a keen sailing enthusiast. After losing his father to cancer last year, Oliver wanted to undertake a challenge which would raise both money and awareness for Cancer Research, but also make his father proud. His father, Neil Hancox, was the first person to windsurf across the English Channel in a team relay in 1983 and undertaking a similar challenge seemed, to Oliver, a fitting way to remember him.

Oliver has this month started an intensive eight week training programme with his safety boat; before the harsh effects of winter set in. The voyage itself is planned for May 2010. His boat will remain berthed in Mayflower Marina free of charge throughout the training period with the money instead being donated to Cancer Research.

Oliver will be sailing the 115 miles from Plymouth to Roscoff in a five metre, Silhouette Mk II Hurley. The journey is estimated to take around 24 hours. The boat, named Cariad, was carefully restored over the summer to prepare for the challenge. 

Charles Bush, Managing Director of Mayflower Marina, commented: “Oliver is incredibly brave to even think of sailing across the Channel alone at the age of 14. The fact that he is raising money for Cancer Research, in the name of his late father, made it impossible for us not to support him in some small way. We will be providing him with free berthing throughout the duration of his training, allowing this money to instead be given to the charity. We really do wish him the very best in his quest and remain confident that his passion and determination will see him through to Roscoff.”

Oliver added: “This is one of the most important things I have ever done. I hope to raise £10,000 for Cancer Research, as well as boost awareness of the charity and its work. Cancer affects so many people and I think this is why the support I am seeing is already so strong. My Dad always loved adventure and this seems to have been passed down to me too. I am a little scared, but also incredibly excited and pleased that I can do my bit to help people in the future.”  

To find out more about Oliver’s challenge, or to donate online, visit: www.channelchallenge.co.uk