Q&A with Thomas Hill, Associate Director at Rivergate Marina & Shipyard in Brisbane, Australia
Tom is the only Australian riding the first London to Monaco Cycle for charity. To add to the endurance adventure, on August 1, Tom underwent surgery on both knees to repair torn meniscus and spent 12 days confined to a wheelchair.
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Tom Hill one month before London to Monaco Cycle for charity. Photo: Tom Hill/ Glenn Hampson.[/caption]
On September 18, the first London to Monaco cycle charity ride will begin – an epic 10-day journey starting from the Tower of London, and arriving at the Prince’s Palace in Monaco on September 27, to coincide with the launch of the Monaco Yacht Show the following day.
An initiative of London-based Winch Design, the award-winning company “specialising in the exterior and interior design of yachts, aircrafts, residential and commercial properties”, 73 cyclists from the superyacht industry – Burgess, Rivergate, Oldenburger, Boat International, Icon Connect, Arcon Yachts and Reef Knots – will saddle up for the 1500 km challenge over three countries, hitting peaks of 12,000 feet, to raise awareness and money for the Blue Marine Foundation, which was founded in 2012. Organisers hope to hit £500,000 to go towards two projects targeting ocean protection, in the Aeolian Islands north of Sicily and the remote island of Ascension in the tropical Atlantic.
Winch Design has long supported Blue Marine, including the “Whale Room” design by William Blomstrand at Sweden’s Ice Hotel in 2012, which replicated the ribcage of a whale.
Andrew Winch, remarked, “I’m passionate about the oceans and know that we must ensure the future of our seas. As a great supporter of Blue Marine Foundation, I wanted to make a real contribution to their wonderful work in celebration of our thirtieth year in business. The entire team at Winch design is inspired to do their bit to help and I hope people within our industry will get behind this event to show their support for Blue and the environment.”
The four stages of London to Monaco
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Four chapters make up the London to Monaco Cycle Challenge, allowing for teams to cover the distances in stages (actress Sienna Miller is rumoured to be pedalling for part of the first stage) although 24 participants, including Australian Thomas Hill, will ride the entire distance. Support across the 10-day ride is being provided by La Fuga.
Chapter 1: London through Kent and to Folkestone. Duran Duran’s Simon Le Bon, a Blue Marine Ambassador, and his model wife, Yasmin, will blow the starting horn on Sunday at 8 am (the public is welcome at 7:15 am to wave off riders). “The sea is a beautiful thing. I think we all grew up thinking it was perfect and untouchable and would always exist, but we know that there’s a disaster unfolding,” Mr Le Bon commented. “Now is the time to do something. The London to Monaco Bike Challenge will not only raise much-needed funds for Blue’s conservation work, it’ll also raise awareness of the crisis our oceans are facing.”
Chapter 2, the longest stage of the ride from St Omer to Dijon, 223 km between St Quentin and Troyes, finishing in the Burgundy town of Dijon. Dijon to Gap makes up Chapter 3, when cyclists will ride at an altitude of 1000m until the last 5 km, before a gentle decent into Gap, the largest town in the Hautes-Alpes, which has hosted the Tour de France 21 times. The final Chapter 4 cuts across the mountains through to Monaco where riders will face one last heart-palpitating ascent up the Rock to the finish line at the Prince’s Palace.
Here they will be greeted by HSH Prince Albert, whose own foundation, PAF2
, has worked with Blue Marine since 2012. Together, he said, they “have made an important unified commitment to help protect the world’s oceans, with a number of joint initiatives focused on the protection and management of the marine environment.” He added, “The first London to Monaco Cycle Ride is therefore a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness on the necessity to protect our fragile oceans.”
Thomas Hill, 23, Associate Director of Rivergate Marina and Shipyard in Brisbane, Australia, will be the only Australian saddling up for the charity ride (and burning 3 million calories along the way).
ML: Tell us about Rivergate in Brisbane and its connection to MYS.
Rivergate is a family owned award-winning marina and shipyard with a service-based model that is world renowned for focusing on every aspect of superyachts.
Rivergate exhibits at the Monaco Yacht Show every year as part of the Australian contingent. Australia is a major player in the global superyacht refit and maintenance industry, as well as a fantastic cruising destination along with New Zealand, Fiji, Tahiti and New Caledonia. But the Monaco Yacht Show is the epitome of the work we do, and it’s very humbling to be a part of such a prestigious and high-energy show. This is where trust and communication happens.
ML: How did you become involved in the London to Monaco charity cycle?
Martin Redmayne [Editor-in-Chief, The Superyacht Group] was at the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show, one of Australia’s biggest industry events. We got talking and one thing lead to another. I’m passionate about protecting the ocean. Our family gives fisherman polarised glassed to help them to see the fish they want to catch as to avoid overfishing. So I am happy to get behind the Blue Marine Foundation and what is stands for.
ML: What kind of training did you do?
I was a swimmer at the national level and have always been very active. I played cricket, rugby, I surf, I do Pilates, I started cycling four years ago … I’m always super active. So in a sense, I never really started training for this ride. I was cycling already 300-350 km a week but I guess it became more of a focus around five months ago but then I found out I had to have surgery on both my knees for meniscus. I cycled the morning of my operation up “The Best of All” on the Gold Coast at about 1100m. The scheduling was all in the rehabilitation post-surgery, with a watchful eye from my coach, physic and surgeon. The knees feel strong; they have to be because I have no Plan B.
ML: You’re an only child. How do your folks feel about you riding so soon after surgery?
They are always supportive, even if they’re concerned. My mom told me, “Ride well for you, your family and your reputation. But have fun.”
ML: What do you hope to take away from such a monumental challenge?
Personally, the people participating from the industry are names I really look up to. From a business perspective, as we are sponsoring the Monaco to London charity cycle and providing everyone with two water bottles, which will have the Rivergate name, website and map of Brisbane, I’m hoping my fellow riders will look at those bottles down the road and remember a moment we all shared riding a mountain together.
Donations for the London to Monaco Cycle challenge can be made via JustGiving
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