Sailability Wellington this week launched a boat specially designed for people with disabilities.
The big two-person ParAble yacht has two rigs, one for learners and another for competitive sailing, and will allow more people with disabilities to sail, and then learn to race.
Veteran yacht designer Bruce Askew, who has developed hundreds of yachts over five decades, has designed the hull. A team of experienced sailors, sailmakers and riggers worked on the design. The yacht is 4m long and 1.5m wide.
Don Manning, Chief Executive of Sailability Wellington, says this yacht can carry 220kg, or two people comfortably. Their existing boats are restricted to 160kg. “Many of the sailors we are taking into these boats weigh in at over 100kg and that leaves little safe loading for the second person.”
Don says some sailors will reach the stage where they are able to sail solo. Others won’t. “Many of our sailors will need an instructor for a long period, because of intellectual disability or learning disability. Others will always need someone alongside because of a combined disability.”
He and a team of volunteers built the ParAble and he is now looking to set up a community enterprise to build more boats like it. “There is no other boat like it in the world. We have got to move it from prototype to production. There is overseas interest already,” he says.
Don says a lot of people gave their time and expertise for free, including sailmakers and riggers.
He is now looking for funding to make a mould for the hull and build two further boats for between $30,000 and $40,000. He hopes to employ some of their sailors to help build them.
Don says 210 people sail with Sailability Wellington in various locations around the Wellington coast, supported by 70 volunteers, and there are 22 on the waiting list. This year Sailability Wellington received $15,000 from the IHC Foundation to expand its sailing programme..