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Inclusive sailing

Sailing is a sport that allows everybody, regardless of ability or disability, to take part on a level playing field. There are many opportunities to get on the water for recreation or competition in boats that can be adapted to suit anybody.

Inclusive Clubs

Yachting has developed a toolkit for clubs in providing inclusive programmes and delivering sailing for people with a disability. There is a wealth of resources on inclusive sailing, from how to set up a programme, how to make your club more accessible, to information on the types of boats that suit people with an impairment.  

Para Sailing

Sailing offers people with a disability the chance to compete on the world stage.

Find out more about high performance opportunities in Para Sailing 

Frequently Asked Questions

I have a disability - How can I go sailing?
Sailing is a sport that can be made possible for anybody. For people with a physical disability, boats can be modified to meet the individual needs of the sailor, whether that be with an electronic servo system (similar to using a power wheelchair) or just the standard accessible dinghies with centreline seats and joystick steering. If you can’t get yourself into the boat, there are lifting systems that can help you in and out. Visually impaired and blind sailors can use buoys with sound signals to let sailors know their location on the water.

Are there opportunities to race and participate in regattas?
Yes. Once you have completed learn to sail and have the basic skills of steering and controlling the sails, you can start to enter regattas. There are a handful of events in New Zealand each year, and many more opportunities overseas as you progress.

Can the boats flip?
The Hansa dinghies used in most New Zealand Sailability sailing programmes are designed so that they cannot capsize. This is done by placing lead in the centreboard or keel, so that no matter how hard the wind blows, the boat can’t tip over.  

What other safety measures are in place?
When sailing, participants must wear a suitable lifejacket/personal flotation device (PFD) and should be supervised by a safety power boat on the water, too. While the choice of what style lifejacket/PFD is often dependent on the type of sailing and an individual’s preference, more care must be taken with the choice for people with a

How can I get involved?
Contact one of the programmes listed below if you would like to start sailing, volunteer or support accessible sailing in your community. Otherwise, contact the Yachting New Zealand regional support officer for your area. 

Yachting New Zealand Committee for Sailors with a Disability

Yachting New Zealand has a committee for sailors with a disability that is responsible for ensuring New Zealanders in this community have the chance to participate at all levels from grassroots up to international competition. Blind sailing and sailability organisations maintain their independence in this committee and share their expert knowledge to be spread nationally.

Yachting New Zealand subscribes to Sport New Zealand's No Exceptions philosophy to guide our sport in becoming inclusive to people of all abilities.

This philosophy is based on four principles:

  • An enabling attitude
  • An enabling environment where barriers are removed
  • Access that is real and equitable
  • All people participating

Upcoming inclusive events

There are no upcoming events.

Useful Contacts

The YNZ Regional Support Officers (RDMs). Contact details can be found here.

National Contacts


Contact Information

YNZ Committee for Sailors with a Disability

Dave Allerton

Email Dave

Blind Sailing NZ

Ben Geddes

Email Ben

NZ 2.4mR

Paul Francis

Email  Paul

New Zealand Hansa Class Association Tim Dempsey Email Tim