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Chesil Sailability - A Paralympic Legacy story

by Anya de Iongh 4 Aug 2013 11:28 BST 4 August 2013

Chesil Sailability is a Sailability group that has been set up since the inspirational Paralympic Games, and is based at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, the Paralympic sailing venue. In the middle of our first season, we are enjoying facilitating people with disabilities to get afloat in Access boats. Our vision for the future as we develop is to become a flagship Sailability group, offering the opportunity for people with disabilities to go sailing for the experience and to take up sailing as a competitive sport, as well as develop the broader sailing roles such as race management for example.

As the Paralympic sailing legacy in practice, we met Lord Coe recently on his visit to Weymouth and Portland - I have attached a photo of this great occasion!

We have also met Stephen Park OBE, RYA Olympic Manager, or Sparky as he is known, who had this to say about Chesil Sailability: "It is really important to have progression from sailing taster sessions, to give people the opportunity to take up sailing as a competitive sport. There are some racing circuits for a number of classes for disabled sailors, and then the British Sailing Team Paralympic squads, but it is crucial to create an infrastructure for progression. With Chesil Sailability planning to help create this entry to racing and progression, as well as race management, at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy which hosted the Paralympic Games, is really exciting and hopefully will be a fantastic Games legacy."

As a group we are lucky enough to have the support of Henri Lloyd who have donated us essential buoyancy aids and waterproofs, enabling our sailors to stay safe. Paul Ormes, Store Manager of Henri Lloyd Weymouth said "it is great to be involved with this project to give everyone the opportunity to get on the water. We hope our kit will help the sailors stay safe."

Chesil Sailability sailor Jane Buckle said "the buoyancy aids will make a huge difference for all of use sailors as they are an essential part of our kit and give us confidence on the water." Ian White, another sailor, and a Paralympic Flame Ambassador in 2012 commented how encouraging it was to see companies so willing to help people with disabilities. We were able to proudly wore this kit when we meeting Lord Coe on Thursday, during his visit to the marina at Portland.

Hugh de Iongh, our founding Chair of Chesil Sailability, said "The establishing of the Sailability project was inspired by the Paralympic sailing events hosted here in Weymouth & Portland last summer. After the Games we realised that sailing for disabled people was not as easy as it should be, but Chesil Sailability is now making it happen. We already have a number people signed up to sail, some for the first time and I am confident it will be a great success."