Freedom on the water

A Pathway to Achievement – Ben’s Story

Ben has lived on the Gold Coast all his life and attended Labrador Primary and Helensvale High.  Ben graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil & Structural) from Griffith University in 2005.

Ben’s life journey and study at Griffith University were both interrupted in October 2000 when, by his own admission, he consumed too much alcohol and, with no memory of doing it went for a ride on his motorcycle. He collided with an Armco safety rail in Oxenford on the Gold Coast and has no recollection of the next 10 days.

Ben suffered extensive internal injuries as well as a lower spine injury.  He was on dialysis for six days and remained in hospital for the next five months.

Ben returned to his studies and after graduating commenced working with Tenix, an Australian-owned Infrastructure and Engineering company.  His first role was project manager (PM) on a large Wastewater/Sewer pipeline project and acknowledges with gratitude the support that Tenix gave him over his tenure from 2006-2010.

Although wheelchair bound Ben, with the support of his work colleagues, learned to cope with the demands of the job.  However, constantly suffering skin abrasions and tears, Ben was confined to hospital for 3-4 months each time over the Christmas period in each of 2007, 2008 and 2009.  He endured a similar stint in hospital in mid-2011.

Ben started para-basketball in 2009 and continues with the sport to this day including various management roles.

in 2012 while fishing with a mate off the Grand Hotel in Labrador, Ben was approached by Kevin Garcia a Sailability volunteer who suggested he might like to sail.  Kevin has been part of Sailability Gold Coast since the early days and is a staunch evangelist for the benefits to be had for both volunteers and disabled sailors.

Ben commenced working on the dock at Sailability (as many new volunteers do) ‘catching’ boats as they returned to the dock, hoisting disabled sailors into boats and generally working as part of a team to keep the dock activity running like clockwork.

Like many volunteers Ben started to learn sailing and his natural sporting instincts took over and he quickly became increasingly competitive.

In 2016, sailing a Hansa Liberty Ben achieved second place in the state titles and sixth overall in the national titles.  Ben has graduated to the sailing the SKUD 18 and regularly competes both on the Broadwater and offshore.  Ben will be competing in the SKUD 18 national titles on the Gold Coast 7-9 August 2020 as part of the Gold Coast Para Winter Championships.

The Winter Championships will be made up of the 2020 SKUD18 Australian Championships and the 2020 Queensland Hansa Class Championships – including 2.3 and 303 singles and doubles and Liberty Servo and Non-Servo categories.  The Championships are conducted under the auspices of the QLD Para sailing Academy with Sailability Gold Coast providing volunteer support throughout the training and competition days.

Ben’s journey has taught him many things about himself and those around him.  Ben has come to understand the importance of resilience and now presents a series of workshops on the subject with an emphasis on talking with marginalised youth.

Those that have shared the pathway with Ben know that it is his courage, dedication, tenacity, resilience and ambition that have, and will continue to see him achieve.

Ben is currently (2020) Vice President of Sailability Gold Coast and in his second consecutive year in that role.  Ben has previously served as Secretary.

Per ardua ad astra.