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Hobart Unites To Help
Disabled Tasmanian Sailor To Sail For Gold

The Wolfe Brothers Support Neil Patterson To Sail For Australia

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One of Tasmania’s most popular bands, The Wolfe Brothers, are staging a fundraising concert to help send local sailor, Neil Patterson, to the World Titles of Sailing, in a quest for selection for the Australian Paralympic Team.

Neil Patterson
The Wolfe Brothers

When The Wolfe Brothers heard Neil Patterson’s story they agreed that they had to do something to help give Neil the chance to represent Australia in the Paralympic Games. Neil Patterson grew up in the Huon Valley, a stone’s throw from where boys in the band live. He developed a passion for sailing from the age of 12 when he joined Kingston Beach Sailing Club in Sabots, later sailing at the Derwent Sailing Squadron and graduating to Catamarans at Lauderdale Yacht Club. 

In 2011 while travelling around Europe Neil joined a sailing adventure around Croatia islands. Only ten days into his holiday, they pulled into the remote bay of Stinivaon on the Croatian island of Vis. Several of the people on the trip decided to go cliff diving. In Neil’s own words, “My entrance into the water was, to say the least, lacking elegance”.  Landing in a sitting position the water surface tension was enough to dislocate his left hip and fracture his T12 vertebrae into several pieces, leaving Neil with no feeling or movement below his belly button. Once realising he had more than a ‘dead leg’, Neil swam back to the boat for help.   

Neil says a life defining moment was while waiting for surgery in Croatia.  “Telling yourself you’ll never walk again, get over it and prepare yourself for surgery in a foreign country is a moment that that tests ones character,” he says. The next two weeks were spent in Croatian hospital.  After a 36-hour flight home, three weeks lying on his back, two surgeries and five months in a Melbourne rehab centre Neil was discharged from hospital.

Tom Wolfe says the band were instantly impacted by Neil’s story. “Neil is such an inspirational guy,” he says. “After being told he would never walk again he set a goal to walk 20 meters. He has defied the odds and after 15 months of intense rehab has now made that walk of 20 meters. Although he is wheelchair bound he still gets out there and plays, basketball, track-chair racing, hand cycling, competing in 10km runs (in his wheelchair) and even rock climbing. That is what I call belief, persistence and focus to the max. Something we all can aspire to”.

It was Neil's love of sailing that drew him back to the sport.  After just a few attempts, he was urged to compete in the Hansa world championships in Sydney, where he finished in an astonishing 4th place, catching the attention of national coaches.  He spent the next year competing in several state Hansa championships including the Tasmania Championships at the Derwent Sailing Squadron.  He started sailing the Paralympic two-person class the SKUD18 at both Sail Sydney and the Nationals.

After the Nationals, Neil had the ambition to take his sailing further.  In May last year he travelled twice to Sydney and once to Hobart to try his hand at the three Paralympic sailing classes, the 2.4mR, SKUD 18 and Sonar. After one weekend of sailing in the single person 2.4mR in Hobart, he was given the opportunity to travel to Europe and compete in the International Association for Disabled Sailing (IFDS) Worlds and the 2.4mR Open World Championships.

In August and September 2012 Neil travelled to Ireland and the UK to compete in the IFDS Worlds and 2.4mR Open Worlds.  This was Neil’s first taste of sailing in a Paralympic class internationally.  With only limited training before Europe and one week training in Ireland Neil completed his first race in a 2.4mR finishing an impressing 19th out of 45.  Neil finished the regatta 28th out of 45. 

Over the Labour Day holiday this March, Neil sailed in his own boat called “Rocky" in Melbourne at the International 2.4mR Championships held at the Brighton Yacht Club, alongside Matt Bugg from Tasmania who represented Australia in the London Paralympics in 2012, also from Hobart. Neil did very well coming 3rd in two races. Due to some technical issues Neil was unable to compete on the second day and finished 8th overall. Now with a taste of what all three Paralympic classes have to offer Neil has made the commitment to the 2.4mR class and set his sights on representing Australia in the 2020 Paralympic Games. 

This is where The Wolfe Brothers come into the picture, says Nick Wolfe. “In order to make the Australian Paralympic team Neil must get himself to Canada in August to compete in the IFDS World Championships,” he says. “The bottom line is he needs to raise an extra $10,000 to get him and his boat there. So we are calling on everyone in Hobart to help us get this shortfall sorted out for Neil so he can make his dream come true and then make us all proud by just having a go at making the Australian Paralympic team”.

Drummer Casey Kostiuk says all the band can do is to play music to help Neil out. “So we are putting on a show at The Granada Tavern on Saturday 5th July and we will be giving Neil all the profit up to his target of $10,000,” he says. “We just need the people of Hobart to come out and together we will give Neil his shot at making the Australian Paralympic team”.

Before his accident Neil worked as an engineer for Defence who have now taken Neil back in and given him a position in Melbourne where his ongoing rehab takes place. Neil now divides his time between training in Melbourne and training with the National Team in Hobart.

Guitarist Brodie Rainbird says the band are calling on the help of their fellow Tasmanians. “We know from our own experience how loyal and supportive the people of Hobart are to their own who are having a go,” he says. “Neil is going way beyond having a go. He is an inspirational guy who deserves our support and by doing so we all become a part of his campaign to make the Australian team. We want to thank the media for supporting this event and also the Granada Tavern for getting behind it”.

Saturday 5th July 2014 | 8pm
The Wolfe Brothers + special guest acts
The Granada Tavern, HOBART TAS
666 Main Rd, Berriedale, Hobart TAS
Tickets $25 available at the hotel (03) 6249 1100
Tickets $25 + booking fee online
This event is standing only – there will be no seating in the venue

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