Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Oceans of Hope Challenge Founder Robert Munns On Sailing with MS And Its First Irish Event

8th April 2024
Oceans of Hope UK founder Robert Munns (on right in red shirt).jpg
Oceans of Hope UK founder Robert Munns (on right in red shirt)

When duty marina manager Robert Munns had a chance meeting with a Danish doctor on a pontoon at Brighton some years ago, it changed his life.

Munns had been diagnosed by multiple sclerosis (MS) some time before, and the Dane was Dr Mikkel Anthonisen, founder of a project which offers sailing opportunities to people with the medical condition.

Munns participated in one leg of a global circumnavigation on board Oceans of Hope, a 67-foot racing yacht, and began to find himself again - not having realised until then quite how locked in he had become in trying to come to terms with his diagnosis.

He founded a British branch of Oceans of Hope with Nicola Kaufman in 2017-18, which offers day sailing, passages on tall ships, and berths on two veteran Maxi yachts – Sir Peter Blake’s winning Steinlager 2 and Lion New Zealand, designed by Ron Holland, which are now both owned by the New Zealand Sailing Trust.

Oceans of Hope runs sailing events for people with MSOceans of Hope runs sailing events for people with MS

There are now efforts to initiate an Irish branch of Oceans of Hope, through Kerry based sailor Stephen Fitzpatrick.

Together with Munns, Oceans of Hope UK and MS Ireland, Fitzpatrick has organised a pilot day sailing experience in Dun Laoghaire this coming week, April 10th.

Kerry sailor Stephen Fitzpatrick who hopes to set up an Irish branch of Oceans of Hope for people with MS who want to sailKerry sailor Stephen Fitzpatrick who hopes to set up an Irish branch of Oceans of Hope for people with MS who want to sail

MS Ireland marketing and communications officer Fergal O’Keeffe says that while places are booked up, there are plans for further opportunities.

Munns will be travelling over for the event, and spoke to Wavelengths in advance. He says Oceans of Hope UK, which charters vessels for its work, is keen to hear from any Irish vessel owners who may like to offer use of their craft – anything from “ a dinghy in Carrickfergus to a Steinlager 2 and in between”.

He can be contacted on email [email protected]

His interview with Wavelengths is below

Published in Wavelength Podcast
Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Search and Rescue: True stories of Irish Air-Sea Rescues and the Loss of R116 (2022); Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004); and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010). She is also co-producer with Sarah Blake of the Doc on One "Miracle in Galway Bay" which recently won a Celtic Media Award

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Afloat's Wavelengths Podcast with Lorna Siggins

Weekly dispatches from the Irish coast with journalist Lorna Siggins, talking to people in the maritime sphere. Topics range from marine science and research to renewable energy, fishing, aquaculture, archaeology, history, music and more...