• The Tribal Warrior Crew have spent a year in preperation for the race. (Facebook)Source: Facebook
An urgent fundraising appeal has been launched after an all Indigenous team competing in the Sydney to Hobart lost their yacht at the 11th hour.
Danny Teece-Johnson

12 Dec 2016 - 3:01 PM  UPDATED 12 Dec 2016 - 3:48 PM

The Rolex Sydney to Hobart race is the most prestigious Yacht race in Australia. Yet in its rich 71 year history no all Indigenous crew has ever sailed the race. Until now, but they need your help.

This Boxing Day, you can help the world see something new - the first-ever Indigenous team to race in the history of the Sydney to Hobart the Tribal Warrior crew. The team has been in training for a year to compete in the race.

Their dream of making history was nearly snatched from them when it emerged that the vessel they were racing on - Kayle - was unable to start the race in a safe condition after breaking a keel.  The team didn’t have the time or resources to make the necessary repairs, so the vessel was withdrawn from the race leaving the crew without a yacht.

However, all is not lost. While still too late to enter the race proper, another vessel, Southern Excellence 11, became available to Tribal Warrior. The Tribal Warrior team needs to raise the vessel hire fee of $58,000 by Wednesday the 14th of December to be able to compete in the race, and they have appealed for public support to make it happen in the way of a funding campaign, organiser Shane Phillips told NITV News.

“The vessel will be permitted to sail under the Aboriginal flag, but on the outside of the first harbour marker. A Volvo 70 yacht, Southern Excellence II will deploy all nine of Tribal Warrior’s trained crew,” he said.

“So Instead of being left behind with other spectators, the Indigenous team will be leaping ahead when the starting cannon booms, competing under the Aboriginal flag. With members hailing Redfern, La Perouse, Nowra and the NSW South Coast, this is a way for people to connect with their own mobs and many others along the coast and help gain safe passage to the finish line. For the public, it will be a whole new way to track the race,” he said.

“Our lean, mean budget including vessel hire is only $58,000 thanks to the major sponsorship of the Redfern Foundation.”

The idea of competing in the Sydney to Hobart race is nearly as old as the Tribal warrior itself. Sixteen years ago the founders of the Tribal Warrior set a course to enter an all Indigenous team in the prestigious event. On Boxing Day of 2017, that pipe dream could become reality.

The Tribal Warrior is adding some much needed Indigenous culture to the event.

“I’ve already put the call out to Koori communities on the eastern most points on the coast. The plan is for them to light controlled fires and conduct smoking ceremonies at these points as the Tribal Warrior team sails past,” said Shane.