Skandia and UKSA 'Try Sailing' offer free sailing lessons for disabled visitors 04/8/07

The success of Skandia ‘Try Sailing’, run with the United Kingdom Sailing Accademy (UKSA), in the past two years has been undeniable. Hundreds of visitors have been able to take to the water for an hours free sailing lesson, the only requirement being that they are at least eight years old. Last year they had to double the number of lessons to cater for the 800 sailing beginners, and this year the initiative has been extended further to allow disabled visitors the opportunity to sail the Solent.

Sailing for the disabled is becoming more and more popular around the country. With more specially designed boats becoming available at clubs there’s a growing opportunity for less-abled bodies to get out onto the water.

Geoff Holt, quadriplegic sailor who is paralysed from the breast line down ( see previous story here ) has been hitting the sailing headlines for attempting to be the first disabled person to sail around Great Britain, while at the same time promoting sailing’s possibilities.

Paralympic Gold Medallist Andy Cassell, who was born without legs and hip joints, has been sailing for over 50 years. For most of his career, however, he never sailed as a disabled sailor, but as it’s popularity grew, and the paralympic sailing movement developed, he set up the Andrew Cassell Foundation to encourage other disabled yachtsmen to compete.

Only just over the finish line after today’s racing (provisionally second) Andy told us: “Disabled sailing is growing and growing all the time and it’s great that initiatives like Skandia ‘Try Sailing’ are getting involved. I’ve seen the sport become steadily more accessible during my lifetime, but it was the Paralympics that really propelled it forward, and encouraged the design of some great boats.”

The ‘Try Sailing’ fleet are running two specially designed boats. Two UKSA skippers were testing them on the Solent this morning and looked to be thoroughly enjoying it. Disabled visitors wishing to have a go on can either book through the instructors themselves at the ‘Try Sailing’ stand on Cowes Parade, or pre-book by registering via the ‘Try Sailing’ page.

Standard sessions will run from 09:30 till 18:00 and specialist disabled access sessions from 09:00 till 16:30. Both will be available all week. The UKSA provide everything required. All they recommend is that you come in sensible shoes.

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