Please select your home edition
Edition
SOUTHERN-SPARS-AGLAIA-SPARS_728X90 TOP

Paralympians take flight with Switzerland SailGP Team

by World Sailing 4 Aug 08:50 PDT 30-31 July 2022
Bjornar Erikstad (NOR), sailing Paralympian, reacts on the Switzerland SailGP Team chase boat after joining the Switzerland SailGP Team onboard their F50 as a sixth sailor during a practice session ahead of the Great Britain Sail Grand Prix. © David Gray for SailGP

Three Paralympic athletes were invited to the Great Britain SailGP Grand Prix in Plymouth last weekend to join the Switzerland SailGP Team and their Race for the Future partner, Stiftelsen VI, to experience sailing onboard the speediest raceboats in the sport.

The world's fastest Paralympian, gold medallist and world record holder sprinter, Salum Kashafali (NOR), four-time Paralympian and five-time world champion sailing medallist, Bjørnar Erikstad (NOR), and Britain's four-time Paralympian and three-time World Champion sailor, Hannah Stodel, all experienced foiling for the first time as they sailed onboard the Swiss F50 on Plymouth's Sound.

The Paralympians were invited by the team and Stifelsen VI [the VI Foundation], an organisation based in Norway, which champions equal opportunities to achieve. Together they are promoting the important call to action asking competitors and fans to #BacktheBid as part of World Sailing's campaign to see the sport of sailing reinstated in the Paralympic Games for LA28.

Bjørnar Erikstad, who was born with TAR syndrome, is CEO of VI Foundation. "The VI Foundation utilises sports to show that disabled people are able to do a lot of things, that's our mission to show equal opportunities to achieve, and we use sports a lot because sport is crucial for many people. People with disabilities can be a part of society, but if society wants them to be," he commented.

The Swiss team is racing in SailGP's global league for purpose, supporting its main and Race for the Future partner, Stiftelsen VI, to champion equal opportunities to achieve.

Erikstand continued: "What we hope to achieve from our partnership with the Swiss SailGP Team is to show that everything is possible. Sailing is a great sport, it is a very inclusive sport, and if everyone has the right mindset, you can go for a sail onboard a F50! Our SailGP sailing experience was an amazing moment for us all. It's so exciting onboard, especially in the turns, you can feel the g-force. It was super cool and I will never forget it!"

Salum Kashafali was diagnosed at 12 years old with Stargardt disease which causes a loss of central vision. Having previously competed as an able-bodied athlete in 2011 he made the decision to switch to Para athletics in 2018 when he was struggling with a hamstring injury and his eyesight deteriorated. After being officially classified as a Para athlete in 2019, he then entered his first Paralympic games in Tokyo in 2020. With determination and mindset, Kashafali says: "Everything is possible. It doesn't matter if you cannot see or cannot walk, you can always do something. Get up and train and do enough to succeed."

Kashafali is used to sprinting at speeds of 40 km/h plus. While onboard with the Switzerland SailGP Team he was reaching speeds of 60 km/h.

"It was a lot of fun on the F50! It was awesome, I really enjoyed it. We all feel very lucky to sail with the team. It was a little bit faster than I usually run... but for sure I will take that!" he laughed.

British sailing Paralympian, Hannah Stodel, was born with Dysmeli. She's raced at four Paralympic Games, including a home event at London 2012 in the Sonar class, and now has ambitions for a Vendée Globe campaign, racing round the world, solo, non-stop and without assistance.

"I had an amazing time with the team in Plymouth," she commented. "I even got an opportunity to drive the boat, thanks to Seb [Sébastien Schneider, the skipper]! Listening to the team communicate and interact onboard was unreal. It's been really special."

While the Paralympians were sailing onboard the F50, the huge public crowd in Plymouth were also supporting the #BacktheBid campaign, signing a four-sided board with their messages. The response has been so phenomenal that a new board has been ordered to take to Copenhagen, Denmark for the next stopover on the global SailGP circuit.

Related Articles

One year to go until 2023 Allianz Sailing Worlds
Making history by being the first to include Para World Sailing events On 10 August 2023, 1,400 of the world's best sailors will take to the waters of the port of Scheveningen in The Hague, The Netherlands, for two life-changing prizes. Posted on 10 Aug
Countdown to the 2023 Allianz Sailing Worlds
Exactly one year from today racing will begin in The Hague Exactly one year from today, the 2023 Allianz Sailing World Championships will begin in The Hague with the competition being staged in the Netherlands for the first time in its history. Posted on 10 Aug
Nominations open for Sustainability Award
Submissions for World Sailing 11th Hour Racing are due 2 September Nominations are now open for this year's World Sailing 11th Hour Racing Sustainability Award, the fifth edition of the highest recognition of success in marine sustainability. Posted on 28 Jul
Governance Reform proposals unanimously backed
In the World Sailing Extraordinary General Meeting At an Extraordinary General Meeting held virtually on 18 July, representatives of Member National Authorities voted unanimously that the Board should draft the detailed amendments to give effect to proposed changes to the Constitution tabled by the Board. Posted on 20 Jul
World Sailing Extraordinary General Meeting
To vote on Governance Reform proposals World Sailing will hold an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) on 18 July 2022 to discuss and vote on proposals for Governance Reform. The meeting will be held virtually and is open to representatives of all Member National Authorities (MNAs). Posted on 15 Jul
World Sailing reaches 'pivotal moment'
With LA28 Paralympic Games bid World Sailing, the world governing body for the sport, has reached a major milestone in its Paralympic quest by submitting the official application for inclusion in the Los Angeles 2028 Paralympic Games. Posted on 5 Jul
Para Kiteboarding special feature
World Sailing CEO declares "big future" for Para Kiteboarding World Sailing's 1st ever Para Kiteboarding Development Programme concluded after 4 days of action on Lake Garda, where 11 coaches & athletes from 7 countries were put through their paces as part of World Sailing's vision to increase growth Posted on 29 Jun
Massimo Dighe heads to IPC
As Deputy Director of World Para Sports Massimo Dighe will join the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) as Deputy Director of World Para Sports on 1 July 2022. Posted on 23 Jun
World Sailing spotlights revitalisation message
Marking United Nations World Oceans Day today World Sailing is marking United Nations World Oceans Day on 8 June by issuing a rallying call to the global sailing community to increase efforts to protect the natural environment and revitalise the oceans. Posted on 8 Jun
Hempel World Cup Series at Allianz Regatta overall
Foiling gold for Peru, France and The Netherlands The Hempel World Cup Series at Allianz Regatta concluded with light winds in Lelystad - enough for kiting but not quite for iQFOiL. Lammerts feels the heat from Israel but wins Formula Kite Women. Posted on 5 Jun
Vaikobi 2021 Boots - FOOTERSOUTHERN-SPARS-OFFICIAL-SUPPLIER-52-SS728-X-90 BottomUpffront 2020 Foredeck Club SW FOOTER