A new catamaran for the disabled has been launched at the Southampton Boat Show.

Mike Browne’s 60ft catamaran,Impossible Dream, was named by Para-Olympic sailor Andy Cassell during the Southampton Boat Show. Christina Sampson was invited aboard for a sail.

Mike Browne, the founder and owner of outdoor clothing company Snow and Rock, was confined to a wheelchair following a skiing accident five years ago. He contacted yacht designer Nic Bailey, who worked with Darren Newton’s company Multimarine and a team of builders lead by Simon Baker to buildImpossible Dream.

“Impossible doesn’t exist in Mike Browne’s vocabulary,” commented Cassell in the naming ceremony earlier this week. ” The point is ably illustrated by the fact that it took just two-and-a-half years from dream until our sail onboard the 60ft catamaran around the Solent.

With the sun shining and a fair breeze, Mike explained how he wanted to build the yacht for two reasons ? to prove that it is possible to build a boat capable of crossing oceans that can be sailed by a wheelchair user and to help others to realise their dreams and have the stimulus to rebuild their lives.

Impossible Dreamfeatures complete wheelchair access throughout. It is clear that Nic Bailey and his team have successfully managed to create not only a stylish looking catamaran but a boat which is technologically advanced to allow Browne to take to the high seas in safety and comfort.

The boat can be completely controlled from within the deckhouse. Mike can leave his wheelchair and sit in one of two modern helmsman’s chairs. Built from carbonfibre, the chairs can move easily move from port to starboard along a curved track, allowing access for sail hoisting, trimming, navigation and steering.

With a single level deck throughout, Mike can happily wheel himself around the boat. There is a continuous grabrail around the catamaran which also adds to the aesthetic qualities. The imitation teak deck also looks good, is easy to maintain and gives extra grip for wheelchairs.

An obvious Nic Bailey influence is the moulded glass windows around the deckhouse. As if sitting in one of the London Eye’s capsules, for which Bailey was also responsible, the 360degree visibility throughout is not only practical but gives a welcoming sense of space when inside. When the weather is good, Mike can take to an external helm position set on each side of the boat. All control functions have been duplicated so that each station is identical.

In sailing terms,Impossible Dreamhas to work at the touch of a button. The main steering position is in front of the mast with a central touch-screen computer that enables Mike to check all functions onboard. With in-boom furling, hoisting the mainsail is simple. Given hydraulic rams for both the traveller and the mainsheet and a preset ‘main dump’ button at each station, Mike can safely set the sails himself. The twin headsails can also be hydraulically operated from inside the deckhouse.

Both hulls are fully accessible via titanium wheelchair lifts. Two cabins are designed for wheelchair access and two further cabins can also be accessible by wheelchair if needed. Modern metallic tambour sliding doors neatly close off each cabin from the other. There is a head in each hull accessible via a sliding door and even the toilet seats are made from carbonfibre!

Now thatImpossible Dreamis afloat, Mike plans to enter her in a few double handed races, then set sail for the Caribbean and perhaps one day explore the Antarctic. Not such an impossible dream after all perhaps?