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‘Neptune’ Sails Ocean Globe Race to Raise Awareness of Parkinson’s Disease

Amy Bridge, Bay Area sailor and member of Modern Sailing, has made it her mission to help raise awareness and funds for Parkinson’s disease (PD) research, through sailing. Amy is supporting Ocean Globe Race participant Neptune and her crew, one of whom, Bertrand Delhom, 55, has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, an incurable neurodegenerative illness. A chance meeting a year ago in Brittany, France, resulted in Amy’s forming an interesting and lasting connection among Delhom, Neptune and the Bay Area sailing community.

Local sailor Amy Bridge on San Francisco Bay.
© 2024 Amy Bridge

“I met an incredible group of people and sailors, men and women, all ages, and learned of their mission: to sail around the world, on a rebuilt Whitbread heritage sailboat, Neptune,” Amy explains. “I met Bertrand, who I came to learn had a lifelong dream, as a sailor, to sail around the world. Now, he was going to attempt the challenge in spite of his PD diagnosis and associated issues. We connected through a shared love for sailing, and as human beings.”

Amy’s own experience is a factor in her desire to support the Neptune crew and their mission. “I had health issues years ago and I was VERY lucky, so I feel I want to give back. Bertrand is younger than me, and I could not imagine what he goes through. I am so inspired.”

The Neptune team says Delhom’s inclusion in the crew is “a first” in the history of ocean sailboat racing. “Through this very human, seafaring venture lasting several months, we want to send a message of hope to the seven million people suffering with this disease [Parkinson’s] around the world today (300,000 in France).”

Neptune’s skipper. Tann Raffray. says Parkinson’s disease has also had a profound effect on his own family. When he received a letter from Delhom asking to join the crew for the Ocean Globe Race, the team accepted with enthusiasm, and and decided to dedicate their race “to the fight against neurodegenerative diseases.” Raffray is an ophthalmologist who has shared his time between medical and seafaring ventures since his teenage years. “Fascinated by the sea from my earliest childhood, I have always been particularly drawn to the Whitbread. It’s the ultimate and authentic adventure race,” he says.

Neptune crew
Tann Raffray (left), Amy Bridge and Bertrand Delhom are working together to raise awareness and funds for research into Parkinson’s disease.
© 2024 Amy Bridge

Neptune is a 60-ft aluminum sloop designed by André Mauric to compete in the 1977 Whitbread race. Afterwards she was refitted as a Caribbean cruising boat, and in 2022 was refitted back to her former racing configuration for the 2023 Ocean Globe Race. Her crew has an average age of 45 and consists of a surgeon, an administrator, a financier, a doctor, a coxswain, an equestrian acrobat, a sailor, a rigger, a sailmaker, an architect, and a meteorologist, all with a shared passion: sailboat racing.

The boat and her crew are funded in part by French organizations the Rennes Centre for Neurosciences, the Centre in Brest, and the Kerpape Business Incubator, specializing in adaptation to disabilities. Their slogan “Join the adventure and let’s fight Parkinson’s together” speaks to their commitment to raising awareness of the disease. “We are aiming for the widest possible reach in terms of public visibility, support for carers, guides and researchers,”

Neptune flies her spinnaker with her motto Qui Ose Vivre — “Who dares, lives!”
© 2024

Amy says the sailors’ story drove her to share this experience when she came back to the US. “Something about Bertrand, Tann and the story resonated with me — things in common — my age, my sport, past health issues, and I saw how hard life had become — and here he was preparing to realize a lifelong dream, thanks to the caring of other sailors.” She has started a social media campaign, and when the race is over, “the work will really begin in making more connections between the US and France, a documentary, and hopefully in the near future, a cure.”

Bertrand Delhom.
© 2024 Amy Bridge

The long-term plan is for Neptune to become a therapy boat. Tomorrow being World Parkinson’s Day, we felt this was a good time to let you know that you can help by donating to Neptune’s fundraising efforts here.

Neptune began her Ocean Globe Race campaign from Ocean Village Marina, Southampton, UK, on September 10, 2023. She is now sitting in fourth place, with the first boat expected to finish in Southampton this coming Friday.

You can follow and learn about Bertrand Delhom via his Facebook page.

3 Comments

  1. Susan Small 2 months ago

    Thank you Amy Bridge for your commitment to raising awareness of PD. Working together we can find a cure. Let’s sail!

  2. Rev Dr Malama 2 months ago

    Breakthrough treatment in researching dementia and Alzheimer’s disease has found a cure for Parkinson’s tremors too… See the 60 minutes report covering a decade of study… Very encouraging medical breakthrough!!!

  3. Laurin 2 months ago

    Amy,
    You are in San Francisco?
    Marcel

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