New Zealand's Nelson Yacht Club 'turns it on' for disabled sailors

Nelson Yacht Club - setting out to attract disabled sailors
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New Zealand's oldest sailing club, the Nelson Yacht Club, has turned it on in a 'have a go' day for disabled sailors. The weather gods did not cooperate, providing stormy seas, but this didn't daunt the enthusiasm of the families who turned out to see how it all worked.

The Nelson Yacht Club, who is aiming at branching out into providing facilities for disabled sailors, wanted to gauge interest with an open day last weekend.

Spokesman John MacDuff, who has had a long association with the club, is hoping to revive early attempts to provide accessible sailing.

He said yesterday's open day was supported by experts on accessible sailing, including Yachting New Zealand disabled sailing coordinator Kristine Horne who came down from Auckland for the event, Halberg Trust disabled sport adviser Justin Muschamp and Tracey Perry from the Parafed Youth Sport Club Nelson.

'They gave parents confidence that this was a wonderful opportunity for their child to experience a different sport. In a couple of cases, it also enabled other sibling to learn to sail alongside as the Access Dinghy is a two person boat,' Mr MacDuff said.

A Nelson-Marlborough trust formed recently acquired two purpose-built Access dinghies, one of which went to Queen Charlotte Yacht Club and the other, eventually, to an Otago club.

The boat that went to Marlborough is now back in Nelson.

He said similar groups operated in many other yachting centres, and he was keen to see Nelson launch this initiative.

The Sailability Nelson trust aims to own and operate the equipment, and sailors will be associate members of Nelson Yacht Club and Yachting NZ.

Mr MacDuff said at this stage there was no hoist to assist people in wheelchairs into the dinghy.

'With enough interest, we'll seek public support and look to include this facility [hoist] to open the sport up to a wider group,' he said.

Another open day would be held in about a month to six weeks. Hopefully the weather will be kinder next time.
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