Media release: PWC riders again raising money to fight deadly melanoma


Personal Water Craft (PWC) riders are again preparing to cover long and challenging distances in an effort to raise both awareness and funds for the fight against the deadly skin cancer disease melanoma.

Media release: PWC riders again raising money to fight deadly melanoma
PWC riders again raising money to fight deadly melanoma

Jeremy Burfoot, PWC world record holder and organiser of the 2014 Yamaha Melanoma Foundation Ski-NZ, says he and his team of dedicated riders will, next March, travel from the Whanganui Inlet (just west of Farewell Spit) through Takaka, the Abel Tasman Park, Nelson and French Pass, around D'Urville and Steven's Islands and into Picton before heading across Cook Strait to finish in Wellington.

"We expect more than 30 riders to tackle the 6-day, 325-nautical mile challenge on March 9-16, 2014," says Burfoot. "And we expect them to raise even more funds to fight melanoma than they did earlier this year."

In March 2013, 15 PWC riders rode from Tauranga to the Bay of Islands, raising over $60,000 for the Melanoma Foundation.

On order to enter this year's event, participants will again have to fund-raise a minimum of $1500 in order to enter. However, many will raise far more.

"One of the entrants in the 2014 challenge has already raised more than $10,000, says Burfoot. "It is a great cause and the participants really get behind it. After all, what we are doing here is raising funds and awareness to save lives."

Burfoot says over 300 people lose their lives to melanoma in New Zealand each year.

"And the really sad thing is that 90% of those deaths are preventable. About 270 of those people didn't need to die and that's a real tragedy."

Burfoot says the money raised from the 2014 Yamaha Ski-NZ Challenge will be used to further the Melanoma Foundation's goals of improving the outcome for people with melanoma; increasing awareness of melanoma prevention and early detection in New Zealand; improving communication among the New Zealand professionals whose work relates to melanoma and facilitating clinical and other melanoma research.

"We also want to provide New Zealanders with the appropriate education and awareness about the dangers of melanoma, support families affected by the disease and try to reduce the incidence and harm caused by melanoma."

He says most Kiwis do not realise that New Zealand has the highest melanoma incidence rate in the world or that melanoma is the fourth most common cancer in New Zealand (with more than 4000 new diagnoses each year) or that 70% of melanoma cases occur in people aged 50 years and older.

While Burfoot's message is a serious one, he stresses that the 2014 Yamaha Ski-NZ Challenge is primarily a fun one.

Those taking part will gather in Takaka on Sunday, March 9 for registration, an evening briefing and a barbecue. The following morning they will begin the challenge with a ride from the Whanganui Inlet, around Farewell Spit and back to Takaka.

"This will be a magical beginning for the 2014 Yamaha Ski-NZ Challenge, as the Department of Conservation has given us a special 'one-off' authorisation to ride in the protected Whanganui Inlet."

The next day, the challenge will head from Takaka through the picturesque Abel Tasman Park to Nelson, while on Wednesday they head from Nelson to French Pass.

On Thursday, the riders can choose between a ride around D'Urville and Stephens Islands or a day of rest.

On Friday, the Challenge travels from French Pass to Picton and the final day, Saturday, March 15, sees them ride from Picton via Cook Strait to Wellington and the welcome end-of-ride function.

Burfoot, a melanoma survivor who set two world records on his Yamaha VXR1800 Wave Runner (for the fastest 1000km on a PWC and for the longest distance travelled on a PWC in six hours) will be taking part, as will Yamaha's Brendan Grant.

"The 2014 Yamaha Ski-NZ Challenge is being supported by Yamaha, GME and Watercraft World, while Coastguard is providing the support boats for the event, he says.

"Those who are considering joining us or who simply want to know more about the event can contact me at burfoot@xtra.co.nz or (021) 213-2056, or check out the 2014 Yamaha Ski-NZ Challenge web page.

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