Tauranga teenager Jaxin Daniels has made a promise to a father who lost his son too soon.
Jaxin is the first teenager to receive a scholarship from the "I Ride With Hame" project to board the Spirit of Adventure youth development boat.
The scholarship was an initiative started by Mount Maunganui's Rieger family.
Greg and Donna Rieger lost their 17-year-old son Hamish on January 23, 2016, when he was snatched by a rogue wave at the end of Moturiki (Leisure) Island and taken out to sea.
The mother and father created a scholarship to get students on board the Spirit of Adventure, the ship their late son sailed on just five months before he died.
"You have to promise me that you will just go out there and take it for everything you've got, don't be scared," Greg said to Jaxin.
"Do your mum and dad, your school, and your rugby team proud - be a leader."
After accepting a Spirit of Adventure branded baseball cap and a Captain Baggywrinkles teddy bear, the 16-year-old looked Greg straight in the eyes and said: "I promise".
It was this moment that Greg has been waiting for since vowing to run countless half-marathons to raise funds for the "I Ride With Hame" project he and Donna created to fund voyages on the Spirit of Adventure.
It would have been Hamish's 21st birthday this year - a fitting time to gift the family's first scholarship.
Jaxin, a Year 12 student at Mount Maunganui College, is the same age Hamish was when he sailed on the Spirit.
The 16-year-old will sail from Auckland on September 25 and arrive in Tauranga on October 5 on voyage No 786.
"You will remember your voyage number forever," Greg said, "and it is great that you are sailing back home, it's very rare the ship docks here."
Greg warned him there would be no cellphone coverage for 10 days, but plenty of gingernuts to ease any seasickness. "Hamish never ate a gingernut again after he came back," he joked.
Jaxin was chosen for the 10-day voyage because the school saw him as a future leader, Greg said.
The Mount Maunganui College first XV prop hoped to study a Bachelor of Sport and Recreation at the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) and aspired to be the head boy next year after his voyage.
"I am excited," he said. "I don't know what to expect but I am sure it will be great. I am looking forward to meeting new people."
To support the "I Ride With Hame" project, contact Greg via the Facebook page "I Ride With Hame".
The Spirit of Adventure:
- A three-masted barquentine
- Commissioned in 1986
- Undertakes an annual programme of about 340 days at sea
- Its mission is to empower young Kiwis, aged 16-18, to reach their full potential while at sea
- Relies on donations, sponsorship, grants and public donations