Cancer-survivor sailing team set to form in San Francisco

More than 100 members of the sailing and cancer communities will gather in San Francisco on April 9 to launch Resilience Racing.
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More than 100 members of the sailing and cancer communities will gather in San Francisco on April 9 to launch Resilience Racing, a competitive sailing program for cancer survivors.

Founded by local sailor and cancer survivor Jennifer Hinkel, the program will train an all-cancer-survivor team to compete in seven San Francisco Bay regattas in the fall.

Hinkel, who is 34, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1998 at the age of 17 and completed treatment with a successful remission at the age of 18.

For the 2015 season, Resilience Racing will train as many as 20 cancer survivors to compete in seven San Francisco Bay regattas in September and October, including the Jazz Cup, the Jessica Cup and the Leukemia Cup.

Application to join the all-cancer-survivor team is open to survivors older than 21. No prior sailing experience is required or expected. Resilience Racing is seeking corporate gifts and sponsors to make the program completely free for cancer survivors.

The team will race on classic sailboats known as Farallone Clippers — 38-foot wood boats built between the 1920s and 1950s in Stockton, Calif.

The Farallone Clippers are among the most revered and historic racing fleets in San Francisco Bay, built to classic lines and known for victories in major regattas throughout the 20th century. In addition to donated boats, Resilience Racing has the commitment of professional sailing coaches to assist in training racing crew in only a few months.

“Cancer has changed dramatically in the past decade,” Hinkel said in a statement.

“So many people are completing treatment, going on to remission and trying to return to a ‘normal life.’ But life does not seem normal after cancer,” said Hinkel, a consultant advising health care companies in the oncology field.

“Even if the result is remission or cure, the experience can be disruptive, scary and traumatic,” she said. “For me, competitive sailing was the thing that finally took me past these hurdles. I am excited to share what I have found to be an amazing healing activity with others who have also been through cancer.”

Plans for the program beyond 2015 include training at least 40 new racers a year and racing on two or more boats.

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