Riding from Tutukaka to Tauranga on a jetski is something that two Stanmore Bay men see as an exciting challenge, although both say they are doing it to raise funds for the Prostate & Testicular Cancer Foundation, first and foremost.
Ski-nZ event director Jeremy Burfoot has organised an annual jetski adventure fundraiser for the past six years.
In that time, $410,000 has been raised and Jeremy says he is hopeful that around $70,000 could come in this year.
The event takes place in early March. The chosen route will take around 20 jetski riders on a seven day, 700km “adrenalin packed adventure” down the Coromandel coastline. Each day will involve several hours at sea, with overnight stops that include additional fundraising activities.
Two locals are taking part. The ride itself does not faze 66-year-old semi-retired handyman Chris Barrett, who has been riding a jetski for more than 20 years.
He has already enjoyed many long solo trips on his 155cc Seadoo, and has ridden from the Hibiscus Coast to Tauranga, as well as to Whitianga and the Bay of Islands.
On one journey, he recalls tying himself to the ski in 4m swells so he could get back on board if he was tossed off the craft.
However, Chris says in general the ski handles rough conditions better than a boat.
“When I sold my boat and got a jetski, I never looked back,” Chris says. “You can be out at sea sometimes and there’s no one else around – it’s especially good when you can’t even see the coast. It’s a bit of an adrenaline rush.”
A survivor of melanoma, Chris confesses that the real challenge he is struggling with is the fundraising, particularly as he and wife Sally are not very familiar with social media.
“I am desperate to raise as much as possible for this great cause – ideally $5000 or more – but it’s been a bit of a slow start,” he says. “I entered because I think it’s about time I started doing something for someone else.”
Participants are required to contribute $1600 each to take part, but Jeremy says many raise a lot more.
Chris’ friend, Roger Handley, bought his 300 horsepower jetski two years ago. He says he purchased it for the family, but ended up on it all the time. The powerful craft does 0-100kph in 3.2 seconds, and Roger says he has regularly ridden it at its maximum permitted speed of 122kph. Not long after he purchased the jetski, Roger took it on a 1400km Ski-nZ adventure, from Invercargill to Auckland – at times, a hair-raising experience for the relatively inexperienced rider. He remembers being tossed around in 5m crossover waves and there were several very close wipeouts. On the other hand, there was the exhilaration of riding up the rapids of the Clutha River. He says jetskiing with others was enjoyable and also boosted confidence. Afterwards he was initially relieved it was over, but then found himself wanting to get back out on the jetski.
He is looking forward to the journey down the Coromandel coastline, saying that the Ski-nZ adventures offer a genuine challenge, as well as fun, while raising as much money as possible.
Donations can be made now at: ski-nz2019.everydayhero.com/nz/chris-barrett and givealittle.co.nz/fundraiser/roger-raising-funds-for-prostate-cancer-ski-nz-19
Supporting the cause
The Prostate & Testicular Cancer Foundation is a charitable organisation that provides support to men diagnosed with these cancers, and their families. It has support groups all over New Zealand as well as helplines. The organisation also promotes awareness of the disease and provides funding for research. Early detection saves lives, and the Foundation advises men aged over 40 to have regular prostate checks if there is a family history of the disease, and those over 50 to consider an annual check. Info: nfp.everydayhero.com/nz/prostate-cancer-foundation-of-new-zealand-incorporated