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Popularity of Sailability gaining momentum

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The likelihood of a Sailability centre in Dunedin gathered momentum following last weekend's Halberg Games, the three-day national sports competition for youngsters with physical or visual impairments.

Sailability Auckland brought along a Hansa 303, one of the boats used for sailors with disabilities, to the Halberg Games and Sailability Auckland sailing coordinator Tim Dempsey said they received plenty of positive feedback.

"Already we have three people who want to try sailing from being there and we also made contact with a number of people from the South Island," said Dempsey who sailed at the 2012 London Paralympic Games. "The Halberg community in Dunedin is keen to get one up and running in Otago so hopefully we can make that happen."

There are presently 10 Sailability centres around the country and the sport has never been so popular. Most can cater for people with disabilities of any nature and they have purpose-built facilities to help get people on the water.

"People just light up when they get out on the water," Dempsey said. "We try to get them sailing solo as quickly as possible and it's just unbelievable. They feel a real sense of freedom, especially kids because it's often the first time they're in total control of something.

"We've had people who have been hugely apprehensive about going sailing but once we have them in the boat you can see the change almost immediately."

Although sailing isn't offered at the Halberg Games, it offers those aged 8-21 the opportunity to compete and represent their region in sport. Last weekend's event was the biggest to date when nearly 200 children took part in the 20 sports on offer from touch to table tennis and archery to athletics.

For more information on Sailability, please contact Tim Dempsey on or see the Club Manual here to find your nearest Sailability centre.