Fundraising Diaries - "I Crossed the Channel"
An Interview with Megan Baker
Name: Megan Baker
Occupation: Student and sailor
Hi Megan, how's it going? So you are planning to sail across the Channel in aid of your gap year right? We take it you've been in a boat before then - and not one of those pedalo type things?
I'm planning to sail across the channel to raise money for Project Trust - who I'm taking my gap year with - and for the Jubilee Sailing Trust; both of which are great organisations so it's going to be a sponsored event.
Well I have been in a pedalo but I do have a lot of experience sailing. I have sailed since I was three years old and have competed at local, national and international level having competed in the Mirror World Championships in Tasmania. I am also a qualified sailing instructor so my experience will aid the success of this fundraiser.
So what gave you the idea of sailing across the Channel to raise a bit of cash then?
I had just been selected by Project Trust to go to Malaysia and I needed to raise £3,950. I was on the way to a sailing event where I was to crew for this guy Tony and we were just thinking of random ideas for fundraising. I wanted to do a sponsored sail because I enjoy sailing and he suggested sailing across the channel to France - not being particularly serious. I thought this was a great idea, not really thinking about the immense amount of planning required for such a venture. Things kind of took off from there...
How far will you be travelling in total and how long do you plan it will take you?
I plan for my Channel sail to take 16 - 20 hours but obviously the quicker the better. I will leave from the River Exe, near Exeter and sail to Cherbourg, France. This journey totals 103 miles!
What preparation are you currently doing for your voyage?
Along with much help from my Dad, I am looking at variations in currents while crossing the Channel and trying to find the required support vessels - I need a 30ft or bigger yacht as a sheltered support boat for the worst case scenario and a large RIB. Also trying to get as much press coverage as possible in order to raise the profile of the event and to encourage sponsors that this is a relatively professionally organised challenge. I am trying to get as many sponsors as I can!
What do you envisage will be the toughest part of the trip?
I think just remaining focused for such a long duration. 20 hours is a long time and so motivation is critical to maximising my speed as I go across.
Are you doing this completely alone - is this safe? What precautions are you taking to ensure it all goes smoothly?
As I said before, I have two support boats however I will be sailing non-stop by myself in my own 13 ft laser dinghy. I will not get off my boat for the whole trip. It will be safe, as we have got hold of a top quality support team. Woodvale Events, who organise ocean-rowing races have offered their support and are providing a RIB. Due to their large amount of experience, they will be very useful in ensuring the safety of the event.
So tell us more about what this is all in aid of...
This is primarily to raise funds for my gap year in Malaysia organised by Project Trust. I will be volunteering as an outward-bound instructor on Peninsula Malaysia for a full 12 months. The activities run at the outward-bound school include; sea kayaking, canoeing, sailing, rock climbing and jungle trekking. I will teach mostly children of all ages however as I build my experience as an instructor I may teach some adults and people with disabilities.
How have people reacted when you've told them that you are planning to sail the Channel?
I have been amazed at how supportive most people have been, its been really overwhelming. I have had endless shows of support from people I would never expect to speak to me and donations have also been very generous. Generally many people tell me I'm mad or that it's crazy, but to be honest, with the training I have put in and my sailing experience there doesn't seem to be anything mad or crazy about it.
At the very beginning of my planning I wrote to someone asking for their support to help me find a support vessel, I received a reply telling me they thought I was setting my sights a bit too high! This has only encouraged me to succeed even more in these plans - never let people put you off doing something you feel passionately about!
How much money are you hoping to raise in total?
I am hoping to raise over £4,000 in order to give the Jubilee Sailing Trust a reasonable amount of money as well as just reaching my gap year total, which is £3,950.
How have you found the planning of this event and what would you do differently if you were to do it again?
If I was to do it again I would definitely begin the planning earlier. There has been so much to do and I feel had I got organised earlier I may have been able to raise more money. I did lose one major corporate sponsor because they didn't feel they'd be able to get enough press coverage due to lack of time. I have enjoyed the planning although it's been a wee bit stressful at some points trying to juggle it with A Levels, two jobs and to keep a social life!
What top five tips do you have for anyone planning a fundraising event in aid of their gap year - assuming not everyone has the ability to sail the Channel!
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