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Tuesday 10th April 2012

The racing team known as The Escaped Aussies has signed up for Antigua Sailing Week and is looking forward to a very exciting week of racing.  However, there is a little more to this team than immediately meets the eye.

The Escaped Aussies and their friends in Thailand!

Antigua Sailing Week 2012 is the 19th regatta on the 6th continent in The Escaped Aussies' global regatta tour.  They will bring with them to Antigua their unique brand of sailing, friendship and charity work in a couple of weeks' time.

The Escaped Aussies were born when a group of sailing enthusiasts got together in the Caribbean for Antigua Sailing Week 2000.  Twelve years later, The Escaped Aussies will be returning to Antigua for what will be an outstanding week of sailing.

But these guys aren’t just about sailing.  They are guided by a set of principles which includes ‘Give Back’.  Through their charity Sailstrong they have raised money for a variety of charities in the regions where they have sailed and have had a lot of fun doing it (another of their principles), bringing tremendous energy and the Australian attitude to all the regattas that they sail. They have been known to rock the house with their singing, upstage Larry Ellison during evening ceremonies, fix winches with Peter Harken, party with Peter Conrad, and pull off some finishes that surprise the locals.

For Antigua Sailing Week 2012 The Escaped Aussies have adopted the Good Shepherd Home for Children as their official charity.  Plans include sending one of their crew members to the orphanage on Thursday or Friday before Antigua Sailing Week to make a list of what they need.  The entire crew will then do a shop on Wednesday morning (Lay Day) and deliver the goods personally on Wednesday afternoon.

The Escaped Aussies provided Antigua's Yachting Insider with some background about their charity efforts:

'We realized shortly after starting our quest to do all of the world's best regattas that some of the best sailing locations also have some major social problems.

'It didn't quite feel right that we should fly in for one week on our expensive boats and stay in expensive hotels, then fly out without giving anything back to the local community.

'We were in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico one year, sailing the Mexorc Regatta. We were staying in the 5-star marina which included our hotel and even a small zoo. It was run by Americans and designed for American tourists but surrounded by barb wire fences and security guards. Through our local connections we found a local orphanage just a few kilometers away. They just received four new babies and had no room to accommodate them and little food to feed them. So we borrowed an open back truck and did some shopping for baby food, bedding, diapers, etc. Seeing big tough Aussies and Americans carrying diapers with tears in their eyes was quite a sight.

'From then on we focussed on orphanages. We like to be hands on in meeting the managers and the children.

The Escaped Aussies bring Christmas to orphans in Thailand.

'The year before last year at the King's Cup in Thailand we visited an orphanage which housed the innocent victims of mothers who were in the female prison in Phuket Town. It was just before Christmas so we bought them Christmas presents as well as the usual food and bedding. They had about 28 kids sleeping on the floor on mats in the room the size of two western kids' bedrooms. It was great to see the little boys' wide eyes as they were obviously targeting who would get the small plastic dinosaur. Afterwards they spontaneously got together and sang us a number of traditional Thai songs.

'Needless to say, it's a very rewarding experience for us. We see it as equally important as our sailing. We're not doing it to be cool or out of guilt but simply for the experience of trying to fulfill an obvious and often urgent need. We can help with that urgent need without a lot of effort, time and expense from our side.  Therefore our motivation is that it just makes a lot of sense, so we just do it.'

The Escaped Aussies encourage other yacht racing crews to adopt similar charities in Antigua and in other countries where they have the pleasure and privilege of participating in international regattas.  For more information visit their website at:

The Antigua Sailing Week 2012 Crew will consist of:  Alan Slothower (Yank living in Seattle), Brett Bonthron (Yank living in San Francisco), Darren Shipard (Aussie living in London), Kieran Duck (Aussie living in Sydney), Zach Abrams (Yank living in San Francisco), Lee Banks (Yank living in San Francisco), David Banks (Yank living in San Francisco), Dirk Freilnger (German, living in Munich), James Knoblich (Yank living in Seattle), Harvey Hunter (Brit living in London), Denis Dreni (Albania living in New York).

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