February 22 and 23 the dates for 2020 Heaven Can Wait Charity Sailing Regatta on Lake Macquarie

SPECTACLE: The Heaven Can Wait Charity Sailing Regatta attracts serious sailors including Sydney to Hobart veterans, but also caters for smaller craft. Picture: Supplied

SPECTACLE: The Heaven Can Wait Charity Sailing Regatta attracts serious sailors including Sydney to Hobart veterans, but also caters for smaller craft. Picture: Supplied

ROYAL Motor Yacht Club, Toronto, will host the 14th running of the Heaven Can Wait Sailing Regatta on Lake Macquarie next month.

The HCW event is scheduled for the weekend of February 22 and 23.

It will again raise funds for the Hunter Branch of Cancer Council NSW and its Home Help Program. The program supports both recovering and terminal cancer patients who are unable to perform their domestic duties because of their condition. Over the years, HCW has helped to raise more than $335,000.

HCW founder, Shaun Lewicki, is a cancer survivor who knows first-hand the relief that comes from having the lawns mowed, and the house cleaned, while being laid up at home battling the disease. Mr Lewicki said he knows what it's like to struggle with "chemo brain" - the term used to describe the general feeling of fuzziness and fatigue that can accompany chemotherapy.

"You can't get any lower mentally. Mentally, you really take a bashing," he said after the 2019 event.

"So to know you have someone to look after the lawn, to take the dog for a walk, or to do your washing, is massive."

Royal Motor Yacht Club, Toronto, vice-commodoore Mel Steiner said about 80 boats were expected to take part in this year's regatta. HCW features a variety of events including a 24-hour Endurance Race which tests the stamina of some of the most experienced sailors from both Lake Macquarie and other ports in the state.

"It's a challenging event - particularly the 24-hour Endurance Race, but I know all of the crews who have done this in the past look forward to the test," Mr Steiner said.

VICE-COMMODORE: Mel Steiner at Royal Motor Yacht Club, Toronto. Picture: David Stewart

VICE-COMMODORE: Mel Steiner at Royal Motor Yacht Club, Toronto. Picture: David Stewart

"Even hardened [Sydney to] Hobart participants agree that this is a tough race - no sleep, lots of sail changes and the vagaries of the weather make the 24-hour race a test of endurance."

But it's not all about the big boys and their big yachts, the regatta features specially designed courses to cater for different types of vessel. In addition to the 24-hour Endurance Race which caters for yachts, multi hulls and trailer sailors, the regatta also includes a Long One Lap Dash over 30 nautical miles. It's for yachts, trailer sailors, multi hulls and larger off-the-beach vessels. There's a 12-hour race for yachts, multi hulls and trailer sailors, and also a Short One Lap Dash for yachts, multi hulls, trailer sailors, dinghies and off-the-beach vessels.

"The regatta has become a hugely popular event on the sailing calendar but it's also a great spectacle for those watching from the shore, particularly the start, which - with the right wind conditions, results in a lot of colour on display as boats hoist their spinnakers for the run to or from Speers Point," Mr Steiner said.

SUCCESS STORY: Heaven Can Wait founder Shaun Lewicki said the Home Help Program had changed lives for locals in need. Picture: David Stewart

SUCCESS STORY: Heaven Can Wait founder Shaun Lewicki said the Home Help Program had changed lives for locals in need. Picture: David Stewart

The regatta will kick off with a charity dinner on Friday, February 21, at Royal Motor Yacht Club, Toronto. For more information visit heavencanwait.com.au and lakefest.com.au.