Tucked away between the line honours contenders for this year's Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is an inspirational story of courage and commitment.
David PESCUD, owner skipper of the 52-footer KAZ, proudly sponsored by KAZ Group, is a jovial skipper - and one who has a lot of time for people with disabilities. He has participated in a total of 12 Sydney Hobart races, including a divisional win with his previous boat in the tough 1998 race.
Pescud, who is dyslexic, is the co-founder of Sailors with disABILITIES (SWD), an organisation committed to changing the general perception of people with disabilities and giving opportunities to people with disabilities.
He is quick to highlight the fact that the feminist movement did not move until the feminists said 'enough is enough' and drawing comparison with that, he strongly believes it is up to people with disabilities to take charge, which is exactly what he did.
Pescud says SWD is about "saying move over buster, make some space for us in the sun, we want to be there",
and that is a responsibility he and his crew have taken on board.
Among the disabilities onboard are amputees, sight impaired, dyslexia and hearing impaired.
David has equal praise for all of his crew. "Kirk WATSON, who is blind, is an excellent mainsail trimmer. In fact and they are all good sailors but no excuses will be tolerated for not pulling their weight.
"It is not an easy race to Hobart and everyone has to be at his or her best. The crew are fully aware of that, especially after our record-breaking circumnavigation of Australia this year.
"With new systems on board, a new mainsail and some fine-tuning, the boat is ready to go. While keeping the experienced core sailors, we are also throwing in a handful of novices and everyone is geared for the Boxing Day start next week."
David PESCUD is a realistic man but he has high ambitions. He understands his boat is nowhere near the highly advanced Zana or Skandia but he is happy to "hang in" with the other 50-footers in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race and he is hoping for some tough competition because that is when the crew best operate.
While it is still early days, his weather predictions for this year are fairly similar to previous Sydney Hobart Races, starting with a north-easterly or a south-easterly breeze, followed by a front bringing southwest winds from Bass Strait and a final run to the finish in a south-easter.
"Continuous learning from previous experience in this race is crucial and so is keeping motivation up for the long haul south,"
While most other teams "change watches" every three hours with new faces on deck, the crew on board KAZ is taking a different approach this year by rotating crew every hour and a half.
David hopes this will not only keep everyone alert, but also with the regular "fresh eye", different perspectives on what is happening on and off the boat will prove beneficial.
The KAZ Group has been with SWD since its inception, nine years ago and with a huge new project lined up for 2005, David hopes KAZ Group will continue their support.