RYA Sailability Multiclass Regatta was hosted by Rutland Sailing Club over the weekend of 13th and 14th August 2011. 65 boats and 150 disabled and able-bodied sailors competed in the event.
Competitors came from as far afield as Holland, France, Canada as well as the UK and battled it out in nine classes - Stratos, SKUD, Access, 2.4mR, Challenger, Sonar, SQUIB, Kinsman and Neo 495.
The racing began on Saturday with each class competing in four class races. While the wind decided which direction it wanted to blow in racing was held up. Once it made its mind up the clouds parted and the sun shone, creating perfect sailing conditions.
Sunshine and wind continued throughout Sunday which was all about the prestigious Ken Ellis Trophy and saw 150 sailors all contesting in the two-race Trophy general handicap series, creating quite a spectacle out on the water.
Competing for the first time in the regatta was the Neo 495 class which had two new entries. Alain Inzerlac, the designer of the boat, came all the way from the South of France to compete. 'It is great to be here this weekend. This boat was built in 2005 and is designed especially for disabled people to race,' he explained.
'I have really enjoyed sailing here at Rutland Water and it has been a fantastic opportunity to introduce people to my boat'.
Twenty two year old Amy Oulton from Ringwood Sailability, who suffers with a rare disability was competing in an Access 303 at the regatta.
'I am so excited to be competing this weekend, even though my chances of winning are not very high. This is event is amazing as it provides competitors with chance to sail alongside sailors of all levels of ability and experience. Some people have been sailing for years and years whereas I am very new!' said Amy.
'The social side is fantastic too and I have even met another lady with the same disability as me. It’s a very special event.' The winners:
2.4mR Fleet - Iain Stowe, Rutland Sailability
Challenger Gold Fleet - Val Millward, Rutland Sailability
Challenger Silver Fleet - Pauline Shaw, Grafham Sailabiliy
Artemis Fleet - Dean Abra/Tim Bell, Even Keel Project
Laser Stratos Fleet - Lucy Hodges/Gary Butler/Liam Catternale, Blind Sailing
Access 2.3 Fleet - Lindsey Burns, Frensham Pond
Access 303 2p Fleet - Chris Emmet/Malcolm Kirk, Rutland Sailability
Access 303 1p Fleet - Ian MacNair, Rutland Sailability
Access Liberty Fleet - Vera Voorbach
Kinsman Fleet - John Vickers/Chris Ball, Rutland Sailability
Neo 495 Fleet - Andrew Sheath/Kate Lintott, Frensham Pond
Skud 18 Fleet - Alex Hovden, Kate Mannering, Papercourt Sailing Club
Wilma van der Broek, sailing in the Access Liberty fleet, was revealed as the overall multiclass champion and the winner of the Ken Ellis Trophy at the official prize giving.
'I am very surprised and couldn’t believe it when I heard I was the first person of the day' said a delighted Wilma who came all the way from the Netherlands to compete in the regatta.
'It was well worth the long journey' she added.
Alex Hovden was also announced as the winner of the first ever UK Open Skud 18 National Championships.
Matt Grier, RYA Racing Development Coach said: 'Another successful year. The weather has been perfect, with less wind and we have seen some great tactical racing.
'It’s fantastic to see the development of the people coming back each year as well as the development of the Paralympic and disabled sailing.'
The event was also extra special this year as it invited disabled sailors to come along and have a go on a variety of different boats under the watchful eye of a qualified instructor in the ‘try a sail’ area which was running throughout the weekend.
The Model Yachting Association (MYA) also attended the event and invited sailors to come and try something a bit different- sailing without getting wet!
'Once again we have had a spectacular turnout at this year’s event, making it our biggest regatta yet' said Debbie Blachford, RYA Sailability Manager.
'Not only is the Multiclass a great showcase of the talent we have within the disabled community, but it is also a great social event too with many spectators coming along to the support the sailors and meet other disabled people who share a common interest in the sport'.
A special thank you also goes to the 70 plus volunteers who worked tirelessly over the weekend to ensure the event ran smoothly from start to finish including the RAF which donated safety boats with their crews.
The multiclass regatta is part of the RYA Sailability national sailing and racing programme ‘Making Disability Plain Sailing’, which is funded jointly by Sport England and the RYA Sailability Trust.
For more information about RYA Sailability visit the click here
to see footage of the event. RYA website