I've forgotten my password
Hansa Class UK

Read RYA Sailability newsletter FOGHORN SUMMER 2009

9th July 2009

Read RYA Sailability newsletter FOGHORN SUMMER 2009 news article


For full colour picture version please visit the website www.rya.org.uk/sailability

2009 IFDS World Blind Sailing Championships

The Great Britain Blind Sailing Team returned home from the 2009 IFDS World Blind Sailing Championships full of smiles despite missing out to the home team after a hard fought battle for the overall title.

Held on Lake Rotorua, New Zealand, between 15 and 21 March, the racing event for 19 crews from 10 nations was divided into three classes according to universally established sight classifi-cations: B1 totally blind helmsman and mainsail trimmer; B2 helm and mainsail trimmer having limited vision; B3 helm and a mainsail trimmer with some useful vision. Each of the visually impaired crews was aided by a sighted tactician who is prohibited from touching any of the boat’s controls, together with a sighted crew whose role is restricted in terms of the controls he/she is permitted to operate.

The Great Britain team was pitted against teams from New Zealand, Japan, Australia, USA, Italy, Norway, Finland, France and Canada. Not all nations fielded competitors in each sight category with some having a single entry only.

The regatta was run by the Bay of Plenty Trailer Yacht Squadron in Noelex 25s, small yachts with lifting keels and self tacking jibs designed for the popular trailer sailing boat market in New Zealand.

Following a series of selection trials in the autumn, extensive winter training based at UKSA in Cowes on the Isle of Wight, and some last minute unavoidable changes within the B2 crew, Great Britain was represented by:


Helm - Vicki Sheen, VI Crew - Dennis Manning, Sighted tactician - James Merrick, Sighted crew - Jonny Cormack


Helm - Lucy Hodges, VI Crew - Jackie Venus, Sighted tactician - Adam McGovern, Sighted crew - Gary Butler


VI helm - Gary Kirby, VI Crew - Tony Whitelaw, Sighted tactician - Martin Moody, Sighted crew - Ian Shirra

The team arrived in Rotorua five days prior to the commencement of racing. This allowed for time to recover from an exhausting 30+ hour journey and to acclimatise to the 13 hour time difference. It also enabled our sailors to take a look at the lake and get a first glance of the boats which were to be used; it was a great relief to find there was a little more space in the cockpit of the Noelex 25 than had been expected.

Two days of practice before the start of racing was given to each crew; this was invaluable in learning how to sail these boats fast. It became apparent that whilst the boats were one design and great efforts had been made by the organisers to equalise them as much as possible, there were differences between the boats. However, there would be a daily rotation of boats amongst the competitors and they all responded to similar general principles. The key points, which were quickly learnt, were weight distribution and the fact that the boats sailed fastest when not pinched and with 12 to 15 degrees of heal.

The practice on the lake was key. The wind, as is common with lake sailing, proved very shifty, requiring significant concentration by all but particularly the VI sailors who rely on the feel of the wind on their faces.

Racing commenced on 15 March and took place on windward leeward courses consisting of two beats and two runs with a downwind finish. It became clear that in B2 and B3 classes Great Britain and New Zealand were the teams to beat and they would battle it out at the head of the fleet throughout the regatta. The B1class was the largest and a more evenly matched fleet with nine representatives from the ten countries entered.

The Great Britain B3 team proved to be a class act, sailing away from the competition and posting a perfect set of results on the third day, winning all four races. They ultimately secured the title of B3 World Blind Sailing Champions with New Zealand second and USA third.

The Great Britain B2 team sailed consistently, although they experienced their share of adversity with the mainsail falling down immediately prior to one start. This led to them having to take a one turn penalty as the sighted tactician, who was not supposed to touch anything, had to help re-hoist the sail. This left them last out of that start but they turned it into a creditable third place by the end of the race and they ultimately placed second overall to an impressive New Zealand crew. Third was the Japanese team.

The B1 Team showed potential and battled hard throughout showing good speed on occasions but were up against a very competitive fleet with the previous two world champions taking part. This class was eventually won by the team from Italy with New Zealand second and Norway third.

The overall team trophy was won by New Zealand, with Great Britain second and Japan third.

The GBR team put in a strong overall performance and are looking to build for the future and the next World Blind Sailing Championships which are scheduled to be held in Japan in 2013.

For further information on Blind Sailing please contact blind.sailing@yahoo.co.uk

RYA Sailability National Conference - Saturday 24 October 2009

We invite you to our National Conference, this year at a southern venue - Hayling Island Sailing Club (www.hisc.co.uk)

There are two price options available: Conference fee and lunch only £12 or Conference and evening meal £24.

Please try to limit attendance to two representatives per club/group and make sure you book before Tuesday 15 September.

There is accommodation available at Hayling Island Sailing Club, please contact them directly quoting this code: RYAS NC 09.

This event is a great opportunity to chat to other sites, network, talk about new ideas and other people’s experiences.

You can download a booking form from our main events page at www.rya.org.uk/sailability or call us on 0845 345 04 03.

Volunteer Awards

Over the coming season you may notice a certain volunteer at your club whose efforts are outstanding, commitment faultless, and enthusiasm never dampened. We’ve got just the thing for you to recognise their input.

The RYA Sailability Volunteer Awards are again going to be presented at the RYA Sailability National Conference, this year at Hayling Island Sailing Club on Saturday 24 October. See left for details of the conference and booking.

A pdf copy of the RYA Sailability Volunteer Award nomination form and guidelines is downloadable from the Main Events page on our website: www.rya.org.uk/AboutRYA/RYASailability/Pages/MainEvents.aspx

So keep your eyes open during the season for that special volunteer at your site, and be sure to nominate him/her for an RYA Sailability Volunteer Award before 1 September 2009.

Sailability grants available to clubs

The RYA Sailability grants are still available and open to clubs to apply for. Be sure to take a look at the guidelines to see if a grant can be of help to your club.

The forms have been slightly updated and they have a new home on the Sailability Trust website: www.ryasailability.org.uk/about/grants_.php.

Sport England has grants to offer sports projects

Sport England has launched its new Small Grants Programme, and an enhanced version of the popular Sportsmatch scheme. It wants to receive bids from a wide range of partners (sailing clubs or projects), focusing investment on grassroots projects that will deliver against their key outcomes - grow, sustain and excel.

The Small Grants Programme offers a simple, speedy way for grassroots sports projects to access National Lottery grants of between £300 and £10,000. The benefits include:

· An online application form, with decisions made within six weeks

· No need for partnership funding

· Simple conditions and measurement requirements

· £7 million available in this financial year

To find out more look at www.sportengland.org/backing_sport_in_your_community

Five new Regional Organisers join the team

Sailability welcomes Peter Fox (Yorkshire), Peter Hibberd (East), John Cushen and Paul Leyshon(Wales) and Tony Mason (Thames Valley). They all introduce themselves below.

Peter Fox

T 01729 823 835 E hyginbarwick@aol.com

When I accepted the post of Sailability Regional Organiser for Yorkshire, the first thing I did was enter into a working partnership with my wife Clare (she likes paperwork and I don’t and she also likes to organise me).

Little did I realise our first task would be to write a few words for a ‘national publication’! Having been in the role for at least a week perhaps all I can do is give a brief background to our involvement with Sailability.

We have now sailed with people with various disabilities for approximately 12 years. We started out as helpers and have progressed through to instructor and organiser (me) and powerboat/rescue (Clare).

Our experience has been mainly based at Otley Sailing Club and we sail with various groups for between one and three days per week.

Our aim at the club and within Yorkshire would be to try and integrate sailors of all capabilities culminating in mixed racing. We would especially like to apply this philosophy with youth development and as part of RYA OnBoard.

We look forward to meeting lots of new contacts in the future and wish you all luck with your sailing throughout the year.

Peter Hibberd

T 07891 032 391 E peter.hibberd@tiscali.co.uk

I have sailed for about 30 years starting in a vintage National 12 in and out of the harbour at Southwold as a displacement recreation from running my small village bakery nearby. In 2000 my wife and I moved to Ipswich where I joined the County Youth Service and became involved with a youth club at a school for children with physical disabilities. This led to an introduction to the Woolverstone Project where I found my niche enabling and facilitating people with disabilities to sail. The Project’s trustees encouraged me to become first a dinghy instructor and later a senior instructor. Within a couple of years I became the site manager overseeing the two dimensions of the Project at Alton Water and the River Orwell.

The Woolverstone Project is constantly searching for ways to develop and improve its operation and my interest in looking at the different methods that other Sailability groups adopt has made taking the position of Regional Organiser for the East of England almost a logical step. I hope to be able to spread and share the experience and good practice of the groups I meet to all in the area while having some time left over to sail myself.

John Cushen

T 07886 701 491 E john.cushen@yahoo.co.uk

Together with Paul Leyshon I share the role of RO for Wales. I have played around boats, crewing on various sailing craft since childhood but have only recently taken the plunge to take the helm and learn to sail independently.

So far my greatest sailing achievement is to navigate the length of Bala lake in North Wales upside down in my laser!

My day job is running a small carers charity that supports parents of people with a learning disability. Over the past two decades I have gained experience of supporting people with a diverse range of abilities in a variety of leisure based activities, both on and off the water. I have been closely involved in promoting sailing for disabled children and adults for the past year, mainly through helping with the development of sailing opportunities in Cardiff Bay and look forward to helping develop these and other sailing opportunities over the coming year.

It has been an eye opener to see just how far sailing for disabled people has advanced since I first helped people get afloat in the 90's and great to see how the sport has truly become accessible to people of ALL abilities.

Paul Leyshon

T 07970 218 776 E tleyshonp@casnewydd.net

I’m a qualified youth and community worker, and I teach at a high school in Newport. I first got involved with Sailability when I worked in an outdoor education and watersports centre in Cardiff which is now known as Adventure Cardiff. At weekends there, we ran community-based programmes, predominantly sailing, with disabled charity groups and social services. These were funded through the National Lottery, alongside the Adventure Out charity project to provide watersports for disabled people, and Sailability got interested in what we were doing.

The relationship with Sailability developed, and they’ve been able to support our work at Adventure Cardiff. I’ve now moved on to teaching, but in taking the RO role, I can still be closely involved with Sailability and help to keep the partnership strong.

Together with Adventure Cardiff, John Cushen and I are now developing the summer programme and a regatta for disabled sailors. To get involved in the regatta, call Adventure Cardiff on 02920 378161.

Tony Mason

T 07590 671 862 E mailtonez@googlemail.com

I’m 28 and the Manager/Principal of a sailing charity in south-east London based on the river Thames at Greenwich. I’ve been sailing since the age of 10 and attended the National Sea Training Centre at North West Kent College. I have been involved with Sailability since I was 18, when I first started sailing / teaching with people with disabilities.

The centre where I work is staffed largely by volunteers, and predominantly caters for people with disabilities and children from disadvantaged backgrounds; it provides sailing and powerboat sessions for all, whether from schools or groups, or individuals.

I am keenly aware of the need to develop access for everyone onto the waters within the Thames Valley region; my aim is to ensure that the Sailability centres within the region get support in any way they wish to develop and increase the level of participation, and to raise the profile of Sailability and identify the necessary funding.

Beginner to Winner

RYA Sailability has launched Beginner to Winner, a new scheme that aims to provide a development pathway between Sailability sites and Paralympic sailing. Beginner to Winner is run by RYA Disability Racing Development Coach Matt Grier, who explains how it all works.

Beginner to Winner was launched in March at the RYA Volvo Dinghy Show 2009. I’m now putting this development pathway into place by adapting the RYA’s able-bodied pathways for disabled sailing, using ability and level of sailing, rather than age, as criteria.

One of my main tasks this year is to develop all of the Paralympic classes for the UK, and I’m looking at creating a UK national ranking system, which will consist of four or five open class events (that won’t clash with the ISAF World Cup circuit!) – the dates and details will be announced in due course.

Beginner to Winner is not just aimed at 2012 – we are looking at 2016 and beyond too: at the other end of the pathway, I am using Volvo Champion Club (VCC) funding to send coaches into Sailability sites now, so that they can help develop coaching plans and training for disabled sailors, and generally develop the quality of disabled race training throughout the country.

As well as assisting Access and Challenger classes to develop their class coaching, I’m also working with the RYA’s Regional Development Officers and the Sailability Regional Organisers to identify existing racing venues where we can offer VCC funding to help enhance their disabled racing offering and so encourage more sailors to take the opportunity to move into racing. This is already happening in London, and we are moving out across the UK now.

Perhaps most important of all, I’m here to talk to people and help them to develop their own personal pathways, moving both classes and individuals towards Paralympic success, long into the future.

Matt has been working ‘in the background’ for some time; he is still RYA SKUD 18 Olympic Development Coach, RYA 29er Transitional Training Head Coach and RYA Racing Coach Tutor. To contact him about your own personal development pathway, call him on 0777 3 77 33 20 or email him at matt@mg-marine.co.uk

Help for hard-of-hearing sailors

With one in seven of the UK’s population affected by some form of hearing loss, there’s a fair chance that many boaters experience some difficulties in starting out or continuing with their hobby.

So RYA Sailability is launching a project to provide a database of resources to help sailors overcome the practical challenges they face. The project is being run by Chris Cooper (who lost his hearing three years ago) and to assist in compiling the database, he’s looking for help in the following areas:

1. Chris would welcome the thoughts of those who are deaf or hard of hearing on what help they need (to expand on his own ideas) and details of solutions they already use to overcome the difficulties of sailing with a hearing loss

2. He’d like to know of any sailing schools that have worked with the deaf or hard of hearing, so that these may be listed on the website enabling course attendees to benefit from instructors who have experience in teaching people with a hearing disability

3. A key aspect of the project is the knowledge of equipment manufacturers, by exploring what minor modifications could be made to things like VHF and alarms to make them user-friendly for the hard of hearing. Product features such as volume boost on a VHF, or an external speaker socket that could be adapted to take a hearing loop’s 3.5mm jack could make an enormous difference. Having a visual warning as well as an audible one for alarms or alerts would also help.

If you’re a supplier of marine equipment, contact Chris and he’ll supply you with a checklist to help identify products and features of your equipment that can then be listed on the website.

4. Calling all marinas and harbour masters: will you accept requests for a berth/mooring via text or email? You only need supply Chris with the telephone number for texts or the email address to be used and you’ll be listed on the website.

Any individual, school, manufacturer or marina who has any queries or anything to contribute to this project can contact Chris at chriscooper@virgin.net

Sir Jimmy watches Holly May take to the water

The launch of a specially-adapted new Access 303 dinghy at Otley Sailing Club was watched by guest of honour Sir Jimmy Savile OBE in May.

The privilege of first sail in Holly May went to 23-year-old disabled sailor Emma Guite, who won the competition to name the new addition to the club’s Sailfree fleet. She chose Holly from Hollybank, the special needs school whose pupils are using the boat, and May from the month of the launch.

Funding to purchase the dinghy came from LHF Healthplan and 96.3 Radio Aire and Magic 828's charity Cash for Kids. Adaptations include electronic controls and special rigging.

Sir Jimmy told the Yorkshire Evening Post (YEP): "Otley Sailing Club is one of those organisations, not only in Britain but in the world, that's fantastic.

"What it does for the young disabled people who never dreamt they could go out in a dinghy on a lake is incredible. Not only can they go out, but the biggest thing is that they go out on their own.

When they come back and they've sailed a dinghy on their own on this lake, you can imagine what it does for them."

According to club Commodore Peter Fox, Sailfree now wants to encourage wheelchair users to join the racing fleet and race against able-bodied members. “We also have plans to hold a special Olympics event for people all over the country, competing in similar kinds of boats," he told the YEP.

Bough Beech Sailability’s first season

Chairman Brian Stanley explains how it all happened

At the beginning of 2008, Bough Beech Sailability (BBS) had little money and no boats – just an enthusiastic bunch of people with a vision and an ambition.

The idea of introducing Sailability to Bough Beech has been a idea in the back of our minds for a long time, so a couple of years ago we decided to stop just thinking about it and take some action to research its feasibility. We believed that the best way to achieve this was to see what other clubs were doing and the experience really fired our imagination, but it quickly became apparent that the undertaking of such a project was daunting. The showpiece of Sailability in the UK is at Rutland Water Sailing Club and we were invited by John Morley to spend a day with them; this was really illuminating.

Their investment is huge, with their own building, access ramp and special pontoon developed some ten years ago, but there were many examples of the operation we could consider and, in particular, the value of Sailability to disabled people.

The most impressive example was a person in a wheel-chair who was clearly very disabled. After negotiating the pontoon, he stopped by the Access boats, was winched in by the volunteers and off he went. Despite his disability he was able to sail solo and often raced. In a boat he was completely independent, something he could not achieve on land.

Later we were approached by both RYA Sailability and Kent County Council who explained that there was a shortage of facilities in the West Kent area particularly for children with sight and hearing problems and people with learning difficulties. After some serious heart searching, it was thought that a couple of trial days should be organised and our potential abilities and the benefits for disabled sailors could be assessed. Both RYA and KCC attended together with local disabled schools, and a number of Sailability centres lent us the Access dinghies with the club and members providing other boats.

The days offered beautiful warm weather and very little breeze but this was fine for the experiment. Following an excellent time on the water, it was decided we would go ahead and make it a permanent commitment.

However, this was easier said than done and there was so much to put in place. This included a mountain of paper-work and approvals and the heady problems of raising money, finding volunteers, buying boats and equipment and organising a sailing programme.

Starting in April 2008, we had to rely on members’ boats initially but we were determined to get on the water. As the weeks went by and more funds were achieved, orders for new boats were placed. The current situation is that we are now operating with three Laser Stratos Keels, five Access 303 wides and, occasionally, the odd member’s boat. Two more Accesses are now on order.

The Stratos Keel has proved to be an excellent large dinghy which is virtually impossible to capsize yet has a good performance especially with the kite up. The Access 303 is ideal for both one-on-one tuition and solo sailing, having a side-by-side deckchair-type seating and joystick steering. Again it is most unlikely to capsize as it has a very heavy centre board-type keel. Although sailed normally with both a main and jib, it is also quite capable of using main only in gustier conditions.

A demonstration of both boats’ capabilities is the fact that only a couple of days were cancelled due to adverse weather throughout last season.

Having survived weekly sessions for the best part of seven months last year, the instructors, helpers, and disabled sailors were all much more relaxed and this year has started well with some lovely spring weather and brisk winds. Most of them think this is highly amusing, which says much for the confidence that has been built and the capability of the boats.

Raising the funds

After a slow start and lots of initial disappointments we have been remarkably lucky. Had we started this year, the problem would have been much more difficult. We commenced by approaching all the usual organisations and people but this did not prove very successful. For instance, we wrote to a number of Rotary and Round Table clubs locally who have traditionally been great supporters of Sailability, but we were completely out of luck so we decided to change direction.

Our next campaign was to contact charitable trusts locally and both large and small companies. At the same time we made an application to the lottery Awards for All fund and we were successful in achieving their maximum grant of £10,000. This really gave us a boost both in our morale and our bank balance! It also provided considerable credibility.

All the Trustees of BBS are either current or past officers of Bough Beech Sailing Club including two ex-Commodores and this gave them an insight into identifying influential members.

Careful scrutiny of membership lists throws up very useful information and one such member agreed to join our management team. He had just retired from the City and still had excellent connections with major companies. It meant he could speak to top board members and re-quested finance for a specific part of the project with which they could particularly identify. One such item was for an extension to the pontoon with a hoist to lift disabled people into the boats. Others were for boats, or parts of a boat.

Financial support has also come from our own clients. One organisation caters for people with learning disabilities and the other is a school and college for children and adults with sight difficulties. Both of these have now purchased their own boats as part of the fleet which both they and others can use.

Then in complete contrast, pupils at Sevenoaks School made cakes and sold them to their friends, and parents ran fundraising functions.

In just over a year BBS has achieved around £80,000 in cash and equipment and the organisation is now well established.

Bough Beech Sailability is fortunate to have a good team of instructors and helpers but will always require more and hopefully these will come from both the club and outside volunteers.

One possible error was applying for charitable status too late as we had the sad task of returning one donation because we weren’t a registered charity at the time. Fortunately the donor very willingly replaced the cheque as soon as charitable status was in place.

The task is daunting but the rewards for both the disabled sailors and the instructors and helpers are enormous.

Tilly shows Sarah Webb how to sail an Access dinghy

Olympic gold medallist Sarah Webb's magical visit to Rudyard Sailability recently brightened the hearts and spirits of its members reports Jackie Griffiths.

Sarah's natural charm and enagaging personality inspired everyone present. We were all so impressed that Sarah took such time out of her busy schedule and had driven up from the South Coast to sail with Tilly (who featured in Foghorn in summer 2007). The two lovely ladies set sail in Britannia's fingertip-controlled, bright pink dinghy, Barbie, and chatted and laughed effortlessly exchanging sailing stories. It was Sarah's first trip out in a Sailability Access dinghy, so amazingly, it was Tilly showing Sarah some of the ropes!

Sarah Webb enchanted and delighted us all afterwards when she presented sisters Candice and Tilly with their RYA Level 2 sailing certificates, and then three special awards for exceptional volunteering to Gary Lowe, Senior Instructor, Clive Heathcote, Volunteer, and our Planning Dream Team who have dedicated so much of their time to secure planning permission for a new boat store with accessible toilet and changing facility for Rudyard Sailability.

Sarah brought along her two Olympic gold medals, from Athens and Beijing, and graciously allowed close inspection of such treasures.

Sarah also stayed to watch the newly-created RYA DVD all about Sailability, which features lots of footage of Rudyard Sailabilty. This visit represented Sarah's first experience of Sailability, and she included in her address the moment of incredulity when she saw the film of Tilly sailing solo at The Pride of Britain Awards.

Sarah explained that she was deeply moved to hear Tilly describing the freedom that sailing gives her out of her wheelchair, and Sarah confirmed that that is exactly how she feels, and is astounded to see that Tilly can achieve exactly the same experience, in spite of her disability.

Everyone at Rudyard Sailability is immensely grateful to this charming Olympic Hero, who certainly left us with a golden glow to see us through the winter, and fortified our spirits for the future.

Watch Sailability.tv!

RYA Sailability has launched its brand new online information resource Sailability.tv, which will provide a one-stop-shop of information about everything from events, clubs and boats to volunteering, training and promotions for disabled sailors and volunteers.

Debbie Blachford, RYA Sailability manager said: "We are delighted to be launching the site, allowing even more people access to information about all the activities available for disabled sailors out on the water around the country.

"Providing the information in this format allows viewers to get a real feel for what sailing is all about and what Sailability has to offer."

Have a look around the site at www.ryasailability.tv

Sussex Sailability takes to the water … in Hampshire

Members of Sussex Sailability were the guests of the New Forest members at Spinnaker Sailing Club, Ringwood on 3 April.

The party of disabled sailors, accompanied by volunteers, took three Access dinghies with them and their hosts also lent them two brand new boats.

They found a delightful gravel pit with a very well-organised and welcoming club, where members sail all day for two days every week. Michael Gilchrist was organiser for the day and he made sure that everyone went afloat, even if only for one race.

There was one race in the morning in very light airs, but after lunch, just when the sailors were about to take part in a towing race, the sea breeze filled in and made two more races possible.

Sussex sailors were third and fourth out of ten competitors in the Access 303 class. Richard Jackson, a past commodore of Sussex Yacht Club, won the Access 2.3 class.

The fraternal visit did much to encourage all the sailors and helpers to savour the enjoyment that racing, its discipline and team spirit can add to the sport.

All this was a prelude to the hope that the two groups will be getting together in a combined bid for the Ben Ainslie Team Trophy, which is awarded to the best team in the Access Travellers Trophy series of open races held throughout the summer at Sailability sites around the country.

Ben, Olympic Gold winning helmsman, has presented his trophy to focus on the advances made in disabled competition. He wants to promote competence and skill with a view to increasing success in the Paralympics, and the freedom and real achievement that sailing can bring to those who might otherwise have felt committed to a life on crutches or in a wheelchair.

Official opening of Waveney Sailability boathouse

The long awaited official opening of Waveney Sailability’s beautiful new £14,500 boathouse by Geoff Holt took place on 26 May.

Waveney Sailability, a charity founded in 2005 to mark the centenary of Rotary International, is based at Oulton Broad near Lowestoft in Suffolk. The charity was set up by five Rotary clubs on the Norfolk/Suffolk border to provide sailing for the disabled using specially adapted Access dinghies. Having started in August 2005 with three boats, all sponsored by Rotary clubs, Waveney Sailability now has a fleet of 12 dinghies, two safety boats, a recovery system, and a road trailer.

Although the replacement cost of the boathouse would be in the region of £40,000 the charity has only spent £24,500 as various materials and some of the labour was provided free of charge by local and national companies.

In spite of the appalling weather, the official opening was a wonderful success. At 8am dozens of volunteer helpers turned up in the pouring rain and cold wind to prepare the marquee and boathouse in readiness to welcome members, the many people who had donated money, materials and time, officials from the local Rotary Clubs who had started the ball rolling, and, last but not least, Geoff Holt and his family.

The rain continued, but everyone managed to cram in under cover of the boathouse or marquee, enjoy the delicious food and drink on offer and listen to Richard Morling, Chairman, introduce the speakers. Finally, the rain stopped just in time for Geoff, himself a Rotarian, to venture into the open and unveil a plaque showing the names of supporters and speak about his own sailing experiences and the need for even more RYA Sailability centres in the UK.

The Rev Helen Jary dedicated the boathouse’s stained glass window, which depicts the Rotary logo, to the late Don Ross, a Rotarian from the Rotary Club of Lowestoft South. Don was a keen sailor, a past President of the South club and served on the original steering committee.

Following good TV and press coverage of the opening, Waveney Sailability reports that there has been a surge in the numbers of members wishing to go sailing.

Geoff Holt – putting something back into Sailability

“Were it not for Sailability, its infrastructure, its trained volunteers, specialist boats and accessible clubs, it would have been someone else who took my four-year-old son for his first sail, but it wasn’t, it was me, a high-level quadriplegic, and that memory will stay with me forever.” Geoff Holt, disabled sailing ambassador and a role model for so many people, has found many ways of putting something back into the organisation that gave him this memorable opportunity.

From being one of the founding Trustees and Chairman of RYA Sailability in 1995, Geoff is now an Ambassador for Sailability. He sailed around Great Britain in 2007 in his Challenger trimaran dinghy, a journey that took 109 days to complete, and involved visits to 51 UK destinations, including a number of Sailability sites, where he inspired many hundreds of sailors and potential sailors with his courage and sense of fun.

Since his return in September 2007, he has given more than 70 talks about his voyage, many of them to sailing clubs, Sailability groups and other charities: “I estimate that several thousand people have now heard me talk about my voyage and extol the virtues of the Sailability concept - there is no greater pleasure than engaging people in your passion. Inadvertently, after my UK trip, I found myself a figure of inspiration for some people. Such an attribution I find difficult to shoulder but I do so with a sense of responsibility and, if by using my name, I am able to get more disabled people interested in sailing, or get more people to engage in the disabled sailing debate, then I am happy to do so.”

More recently, Geoff has launched the new boat house at Waveney Sailability (see previous page), spoken to Rutland Sailability, launched a new powerboat at Fishbourne Sailability, been made an Honorary member of New Forest Sailability, become a Patron of Friends of Sussex Sailability, spoken at the Woolverstone Project, spoken at the Challenger championships at Oxford, spoken at Burghfields SC and been made a Patron of Lymington Sailability! “Each of the venues may be different, in terms of facilities, types of sailing and approach to activities, but all are getting on with the job of helping disabled people to sail,” he says. “It’s a win-win situation, with disabled people, volunteers and local communities all benefiting and it is down to having good people doing great things. I may find myself in a privileged position to spread the Sailability message, but each and every one of the Sailability family can do likewise - we are all ambassadors for our sport.”

Geoff’s next big idea is to sail the Atlantic Ocean and, by example, to tell the Sailability story to a wider, international audience. Once again, he will be working with Sailability to inspire and encourage disabled people everywhere to follow their dreams. For further details log onto www.PersonalAtlantic.com and register free to follow his adventure.

Calling all sailors for RYA Sailability Multi Class Regatta

Entry forms are now available for the third annual RYA Sailability Multi Class Regatta, which takes place at Rutland Sailing Club, 14 to 16 August 2009.

The regatta is open to all racing sailors with disabilities who race in the following classes: Access, 2.4mR, Challenger, Martin 16, SKUD, Artemis and Squib.

The event kick-starts with fleet training on the Friday, plus opening ceremony and barbeque for all competitors and helpers. A full day’s racing on the Saturday will be followed by an evening regatta dinner and cabaret, as well as spot prizes for the day’s notable performances. On Sunday all the fleets come together for a giant pursuit race, with the first boat over the line crowned Champion of Champions. The weekend culminates in prizegiving presentations with prizes for the top boats in the fleet and pursuit races.

So whatever your ability from first-time racer to Paralympic level, the regatta has something for you.

Debbie Blachford, RYA Sailability Manager says: “The multi class regatta has been hugely successful since its conception in 2007. Last year we saw some 68 boats and 85 competitors enter and we hope to see even more people and boats out on the water this year.

“It’s a great event to get all the different classes together and for people to meet up with old friends and make new ones. So get your entries in now.”

Notice of Race and entry forms are available at www.rya.org.uk/sailability. Race entry is £10 for the weekend, and the regatta dinner is free to competitors.

For more information contact event co-ordinator Richard Johnson on telephone 01733 265 468, mobile 07802 710 800 or email Richard.johnson2070@ntlworld.com.

Foghorn is the official newsletter of RYA Sailability for all Sailability clubs. It is published three times a year by

RYA Sailability
RYA House
Ensign Way
Southampton SO31 4YA

Registered Charity No. 1084351

Foghorn can be downloaded from www.rya.org.uk/sailability. To contribute articles, or to request hard copies, e-mail versions or text versions, contact Connie LeBrun, Project Administrator, on 02380 604247 connie.lebrun@rya.org.uk

Opinions expressed in Foghorn are not necessarily those of the editor or the RYA.

Connie Lebrun Project Assistant - Sailability t 023 8060 4247 e connie.lebrun@rya.org.uk

w www.rya.org.uk/sailability

Making disability plain sailing

Powered by Conceptulise CMS