One Man, One Boat, One Ocean & 40 New Smiles

Solo sailor Roberto Westerman raced across the Atlantic, to raise as many smiles as he could for in the OSTAR (the Original Singlehanded Transatlantic Race) 2009.


Some of the world’s greatest sailors have taken part including; Eric Tabarly, Pete Goss, Loick Peyron, Francis Joyon, Mike Golding, Michel Desjoyeaux and Ellen MacArthur. The Atlantic is the only judge and allows no room for mistakes, emphasising that the race truly is inspired by legends and sailed by heroes.

After 19 gruelling days at sea Roberto was 3rd across the finishing line in Newport, Rhode Island. An amazing achievement, especially as on just day three Roberto encountered rudder problems and had to make ongoing repairs while underway, impairing his speed for the rest of the race!

Roberto was sponsored by Welling Corner Dental Practice on the condition that he also raised money for Operation Smile. In addition to the sponsorship, Dr Heidweiller, Associate Dentist at Welling Corner, agreed to give £1 to Operation Smile for every nautical mile that Roberto sailed, approximately 3,000 nautical miles.

Dr Heidweiller was keen to develop an association with Operation Smile and to support their work and this seemed like a perfect opportunity to begin. Erik Lijesen, the Principal Dentist at Welling Corner was also keen to get on board. "We wanted children worldwide to also benefit from the sponsorship and so are delighted that through Roberto's participation in the race, we are also helping to raise essential funds for Operation Smile, a charity whose work we have long admired for their high standard of care for every child every time." - Erik Lijesen, Welling Corner Dental Practice.

When times got tough during the race, when Roberto was amidst thick fog and fearing ice burgs, cold, damp and exhausted, he knew he had to keep going and one of his greatest inspirations at this time, was the fact that he had to finish to change as many children’s lives he possibly could. The total amount Roberto has raised so far is a fantastic £6,000 which will change 40 children’s lives, forever.

"We strive for a world where no child suffers the risks and uncertainties of a facial deformity."

- Richard Lewandowski, Plastic Surgeon, Co-Founder Operation Smile Australia