The Wanaka Yacht Club hosted the third of Yachting New Zealand’s Paralympic classes development clinis in late April, attended by eight sailors from Queenstown, TeAnau, Auckland, Christchurch and a handful of local sailors from Wanaka.
Sailing in Etchells with a few modifications, the weekend was designed as a starting point for future progression of keelboat sailing for people with a disability. Wanaka yacht club is one of a few in the region that is fully inclusive both on and off the water.
From this event, already one team of three sailors have assembled and will look forward to competing in the Sonar (Paralympic keelboat class) at future international events. There are not currently any Sonars in New Zealand, so for now the plan is to use modified Etchells or similar trailer yachts.
Also a ‘try sailing’ event on the Friday afternoon saw several new sailors come down to the club and try out some of the boats that can easily cater for people with a physical disability. The Otago Yacht Club’s Access 2.3 sailing dinghy was carted across to help with this, and several generous Wanaka club members made their boats available.
The long term intentions are to have an ongoing sailing programme for people with a disability in the region, and for the club to become a ‘hub’ for Paralympic keelboat sailing on the South Island.
For more information, please contact Kristine@yachtingnz.org.nz