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Miles for Smiles

Bass Strait Rowers make history for our Clown Doctors

Watch their adventure unfold

On Monday 24 January 2022 a group of competitive rowers embarked on the first ever surfboat crossing of the notoriously treacherous Bass Strait!

“My wife said, you can’t NOT do this. She is the wise one… I think our experience with her cancer has made us seize the moment at every available opportunity. One of our kids thinks I’m stark raving mad. Another says, we would expect nothing less from you Dad!”

Having meticulously planned and trained for this most arduous of challenges – thwarted this time last year by pandemic restrictions – the team of 11 set off from Port Albert, Victoria and rowed a massive 79km on Day 1, arriving at Hogan Island early evening.

Up to 14 days had been allocated for the crossing, with six overnight island camps planned. Of course, the team was hugely reliant on ever-evolving wind and tide forecasts that would dictate their progress.

In the end, the team successfully crossed Bass Strait in just 8 days – however not without overcoming some challenging conditions along the way!

The Bass Strait Rowers Miles for Smiles team comprised a landscape gardener, orthopaedic surgeon, scientist, business owner, stonemason, estimator and physiotherapist, among other occupations. They were not all known to each other previously and were united by their love of rowing, keeping fit and setting a great example for their kids.

All took leave from their employment and businesses and personally covered the significant costs, including the support charter boat hire. They were determined to fundraise for the Clown Doctors program from early planning stages in late 2020. Several members of the team members have had personal experiences with the Clown Doctors’ work.

CEO Tony Warner, who joined the team on their arrival in Launceston, said “We are both humbled by, and hugely grateful to the Bass Strait Rowers Miles for Smiles team for the lengths they went to in support of the Clown Doctors. The donations they have raised will fund at least one ‘Clown Round’ per week for an entire year. A Clown Round as we call them, is essentially a 5 hr visit from two Clown Doctors to wards and other departments as requested by hospital staff on the day. On behalf of those families who will experience the laughter and reprieve Clown Doctors deliver during incredibly tough times, thank you. We appreciate your incredible efforts and generous support of the Clown Doctors program.”