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International Access Class Association adopts Hansa Sailing brand

by David Staley on 23 May 2013
David Staley - copyright
The International Access Class Association has been renamed and is now the International Hansa Class Association.

The manufacturer of the Access 2.3, 303, Liberty and SKUD 18, Access Sailing Systems Pty Ltd, advised the International Class Association in 2012 that it would be changing its name to Hansa Sailing Systems Pty Ltd and adopting the Hansa Sailing brand internationally for its range of small keelboats and accessories.

International Class Association President, Brendan Tourelle, believes the name change is a step in the right direction.

'As a class association, we need to support any initiatives by the manufacturer to grow the number of boats around the world. This seems a great opportunity to promote the four classes to people of all abilities to begin and develop in sailing', said Tourelle.

Hansa Sailing Systems aims to focus on the mainstream sailing market and promote awareness of the suitability of the boats for inclusive mainstream participation and training programs, and for widespread use by people of all abilities.

2013 was seen as an ideal opportunity for this change as the word 'Access' has over the past decade become almost synonymous with disabled access whereas the company and its craft are of universal appeal and value. Through the widespread adoption of Access Sailing’s products by Sailability and other disabled sailing organisations internationally, the Access brand has become closely associated with disability and the boats have been largely seen as 'boats for the disabled' within the mainstream sailing community.

According to Hansa Sailing Systems principal and designer Chris Mitchell, 'The boats were never designed specifically for people with a disability - they were conceived as an entry level craft for Asia where participation was low, and to provide a confidence-building feeling of safety and ease of use.'

'Based upon the boats’ inclusive 'sailing for everyone' potential, I chose the name 'Access' in the early 90’s for its broader meaning that seemed appropriate at the time', he said.

Over the years however, the 'Access' branding was seen as restricting the market sectors that the boats could be successfully promoted to, and limiting the growth potential of the class. More importantly, this was viewed as contributing to the perpetuation of segregated sport. This is in stark contrast to the company’s aims of growing inclusive participation in sailing as a recreation and sport, and enabling people with a disability to share in mainstream sporting and social activities.

Access Sailing Systems Pty Ltd has therefore changed its trading name to Hansa Sailing Systems Pty Ltd and its primary branding to Hansa Sailing in 2013. The 'Hansa' is the well recognised swan motif that has served as the Access Class insignia since 1994.


The mythical Hansa Swan is derived from the philosophy of ancient Sanskrit. It represents perfect union and balance – a vehicle for the harmony of wind, sea and sailor. The flight of the Hansa also symbolizes an escape from a repetitive cycle – changing the established pattern or taking a different approach.

'These boats bearing the Hansa insignia are products of universal design and a philosophy of inclusion, aiming to make sailing more accessible and appealing', said Mitchell.

At its 2012 Annual General Meeting, the International Access Class Association resolved to change its name to the International Hansa Class Association.

The names of three of the individual classes will also change.

The Hansa 2.3 is an ISAF Class including the 2.3 Wide and 2.3 Single (previously known as the Access 2.3), along with the new 2.3 Breeze model.

The Hansa 303 is an ISAF Class including the 303 Wide (previously known as the Access 303) and 303 Breeze.
The Liberty is an ISAF Class previously known as the Access Liberty.

The SKUD 18 is an IFDS Class.

The International Hansa Class Association website is having some new graphics to reflect the new name and documentation will be progressively updated. It is anticipated that many of the National Class Associations will also change their names to align with the International Hansa Class Association and the new international brand for the family of Hansa classes.

Class Association website

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