By David Kavanagh | posted on February 13, 2020
A STATE sailing contest for people with a disability taking place in Albany this weekend could be an important stepping-stone for events like the Paralympics, according to its organiser.
Coordinator Mark Paynter said the Hansa WA Sailing Championships, being held at Princess Royal Sailing Club (PRSC) for the first time, could act as a “pathway” for sailors with a disability eager to compete internationally.
The Hansa 303 and slightly larger Hansa Liberty are the two types of vessels being used at the event and are specifically designed to suit those living with disability.
“Hansa are a class of boat that are sailed internationally, so if we can prepare our sailors for these, they’ve got an opportunity to not just sail down here but in competitions across Australia and the world,” Mr Paynter said.
“These craft are designed for confidence building and have a high level of stability, but still require skill to sail them.
“If sailing were to be re-introduced to the Paralympics, then probably the Hansa 303 would be the boats used.”
The sport has been officially discarded from the Paralympics in Tokyo this year.
Mr Paynter, who also heads PRSC’s decade-old Sailability program, noted sailing provided people with disability a chance to both engage with the sport and the broader community.
“This particular championship brings Sailability and other programs for people with disability into the mainstream, and that’s why it’s important,” Mr Paynter said.
“Through these, people develop the skills they need from qualified instructors.”
Sixteen participants from Perth and Albany are expected to compete this Saturday and Sunday, ranging in age from 12 to 84.
More information about the event and bi-weekly Sailability program can be found at prsc.com.au and on the Club’s Facebook page.