This article continues from a predecessor, “ICBC reflect on mental health and spreading awareness in the rowing community”.

A separate campaign, Race4René, in memory of René, was set up in 2018 with some of René’s closest friends and family, aiming to sail across the Atlantic with the poignant message: asking for help should not be as hard as crossing an ocean.

The crew of novice sailors, including ICBC members and alumni, have challenged themselves to take part in a Trans-Atlantic yacht race in memory of their friend and to raise money for charity. Partnered with the charities Child Bereavement UK and PAPYRUS, Race4Rene supports campaigns for more research into methods for suicide prevention and support for young people suffering. Young people like René.

In this expedition, crew members face their first ocean-crossing passage as well as compete with touch racers in an ocean race. Currently, the crew is sending daily updates with some personal reflections from each crew member, which can be followed on @race4rene. During the race, the crew will take part in every aspect of crewing the yacht, including setting, taking down and packing sails (including spinnakers), reefing, all manoeuvres, sail-trimming, keeping a lookout, steering, cooking, and daily cleaning.

The Race4René crew are currently tackling gusts of wind at up to 30 knots during their continuous 16-day race. However, it’s more than just plain race sailing; the crew will arrive in Saint Lucia, having achieved something amazing. Through thick and thin, with each other’s support, they crossed an ocean on a small sailboat.

Out of a tragedy, it is humbling to see the amount of good that has come, thanks to the goodwill of those who knew him and the determination of the community to save lives and raise awareness.

Mental health is not a topic for a day or a week; it should remain a priority throughout the year and these campaigns are helping to do just that. Share your stories with your friends, talk about things getting to you and support each other.

“Be kind, for everyone you know is fighting a battle.”