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'Chilvers Challenge' crew set sail for Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund

11 June 2019

A group of keen sailors are setting out to compete in the UK’s largest sailing race in tribute to their friend and fellow crew member who died of pancreatic cancer.

Saffron Star crew members: skipper John Digby (centre) with David Harper (left) and Paul Stewart

Led by skipper John Digby, the five-strong crew will be sailing John’s 46-foot yacht, the Saffron Star, in the Isle of Wight’s annual Round the Island race, a 50-mile course organised by the Island Sailing Club, due to take place on 29 June 2019.

Up to one third of the 1,400 boats taking part do not complete the challenging race – but the Saffron Star crew are determined to stay the course in memory of their friend, Jerry Chilvers, who died in December 2018, aged 54.

“Jerry loved competing in this race with us and so this year we decided to make sure he’s still with us,” says John. “We’ll have Jerry with us in spirit as we complete the race in his honour, and also raise some money for Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund.”

This year’s 'Chilvers Challenge' crew will include Jerry’s friends David Harper and Toby Gray, alongside Paul Stewart and Kirsten Whitfield.

Crew member David Harper, says: “I met Jerry on the beach between the piers in Brighton in the early ‘80s and we’ve been friends ever since. We shared a love of windsurfing and sailing, and Jerry used to enjoy taking part in the Round the Island race. Sadly he won’t be joining us this year, so we’re taking on the Chilvers Challenge to do something positive and raise money for much-needed research into this disease.”

Jerry Chilvers

The prestigious event, which has been an annual fixture in the sailing calendar since the 1930s, attracts sailors of all calibres and boats of all sizes. Previous winners have included former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath and Olympic sailor Sir Ben Ainslie.

Maggie Blanks, CEO of Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund, said: “What a wonderful way to pay tribute to Jerry. The money raised in his memory will fund innovative, cutting edge research and we’re very grateful to the whole Saffron Star team for their support.”

You can contribute to the crew’s fundraising via the Chilvers Challenge Just Giving page.

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