Sailing is a fun and highly skilful activity. Anyone who sails will understand the thrill of finding the right tack and feeling the wind rush past as the boat picks up speed and the sixth sense quickly acquired for boom dodging. With a few adaptations to boats, it is a skill anyone interested can learn, regardless of physical ability the skill of reading the water and channelling the wind is what makes the difference come race day. Often people with disabilities aren't given the same opportunities as their able-bodied counterparts. We speak with Don Manning from Sailability about how they provide options for people with disabilities to get on the water.
Rhino-Rack: Tell us a bit about the organisation, and how you come to be?
Don Manning:Sailability Wellington began 15 years ago in Wellington from a simple question asked at an Evans Bay Yacht & Motor Boat Club ‘open day’, “Did the club provide sailing for people with disabilities?”. The lass who asked it was in a wheelchair. Some senior club members got talking and found out that there was a worldwide organisation called Sailability which does just that. They resolved to form a charitable trust and American Express came to the party with enough money to buy three little yachts. Fast forward fifteen years,.Sailability Wellington now owns 25 yachts and three safety boats, as well as storage facilities, life jackets, VHF radios, dock cranes and slings. It has three bases, the one at Evans Bay and one at Seaview and another on Porirua Harbour. There are nearly 190 members who sail each week all year round, (weather permitting) and they are supported by nearly 70 volunteers.
Sailability Wellington has been responsible for enabling other Sailability groups to set up in Whangarei, Tauranga, Rotorua, Napier and Nelson by lending them boats, coaches and administrative expertise. Sailability Wellington Trust has raised the money to build a jetty and floating pontoon for Porirua Harbour at a cost of $150,000. The trust still has a waiting list of ‘would be’ sailors.
Rhino-Rack: What is saleability’s ultimate goal?
Don Manning: Our ultimate goal is to provide sailing for any person with a disability in the Wellington region. We are spread as far as Horowhenua south and will possibly next reach to the Wairarapa.
Rhino-Rack: Where is Saleability based?
Don Manning: As well as the centres mentioned, there are Sailability Groups in Auckland, Taranaki and Hamilton. It is a worldwide organisation but there are few if any national organisations.
Rhino-Rack: How has Rhino-Rack help you achieve this goal?
Don Manning: In Wellington, we have a lot of work to do maintaining our yachts. To achieve this we need to transport beach trolleys, support frames, masts and the like. Having the wonderful gift of a Rhino-Rack will enable that to happen with ease.
Rhino-Rack: How can people help you achieve your goal/how can people get involved?
Don Manning: Many people come and help us on sailing days. Mostly they are retired or semi-retired people with a background in sailing. On top of that, some companies are corporate sponsors and kindly give us a donation on an annual basis to help with the costs of administration, insurances, storage and the like.
Find out more information from the Sailability Website: https://www.sailability.org