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NZCT helping to create opportunities for disabled sailors

The Sailability Taranaki Trust was thrilled to recently receive a $44,000 grant from NZCT towards a storage shed.

The trust was established in 2012 and enables people with disabilities to experience the thrill of sailing. Sailing takes place on the Waitara River, 20 minutes north of New Plymouth.

Sailability Taranaki has over 300 members. Spokesperson Jan Holdt says that the members are very excited to have the cost of the new storage shed fully funded by NZCT.

“The grant from NZCT will allow us to construct a storage shed to house the 303 yachts and rigging, ensuring the safety and longevity of the gear so that the sailing programme can continue into the future.”

The 303 yachts are built in Australia for the world-wide Sailability programme. They can take two people side by side or can be sailed by one person. Steering is done with a central joystick and volunteers encourage the participants to steer the boat on the water.

“People on our programme can either be alongside an experienced yachtsman or in most cases sail independently. The uniqueness of the 303 yachts is that they allow disabled sailors to experience something that is often impossible on land without any assistance,” says Jan.

“The look of sheer delight on the face of someone who has been consigned to a wheelchair for the rest of their lives and then find themselves single-handedly sailing a 303 Hansa yacht is a sight to behold!” adds Jan.

Sailability Taranaki have had to store some of their boats in a container next to the Waitara Boating Club, with the others squeezed into the clubrooms. The new storage shed will give the trust the storage space they need for their busy sailing programme.

“School groups attend sailing days during the week and open club sailing is available each weekend over the summer months once sailors are confident to participate,” says Jan. “The ability to provide the programme is due to the amazing volunteers who continue to support Sailability Taranaki.”

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