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Chesil Sailability launches its first boats

by Anya de Iongh 28 Jun 2014 10:03 BST 24 June 2014

On Tuesday 24th June, Chesil Sailability celebrated the naming of two new boats donated by Mrs Shipley through the Rod Shipley Memorial Fund to Chesil Sailability.

Rod Shipley started in boats at an early age, starting sailing at school in Portsmouth. He spent many years in the Navy, travelling the high seas, with his last posting in Portland. He then started work in Dorchester and then joined Chesil Beach Motors, which he ran for many years, and which is why he is well known in this area.

He always retained his love for the sea, and was involved in the Royal Dorset Yacht Club. And on his retirement, he and Mrs Shipley continued to go boating and travel all over the world.

Rod Shipley passed away in 2012, and Mrs Shipley set up the Rod Shipley Memorial Fund with the Chesil Trust, to recreate that opportunity to get involved in sailing, that had so inspired Rod Shipley when he was at school.

And so it is through her generosity that we are able to celebrate these two boats.

Chesil Sailability is inspired by the 2012 Paralympics, and started in 2013 as a charity run by volunteers. We are a group of people who are passionate about sailing, regardless of disabilities. We support all disabilities, mild to very severe physical disabilities, long term health conditions, learning difficulties and those with complex needs. Chesil Sailability is based at probably the best accessible sailing facilities and waters in the country, if not the world at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy.

It is about having fun - some people want to go sailing just for the pleasure of being on the water, and we are really happy to make that possible. One of our sailors said after their very first sail; 'Just been sailing for the first time in my life. Very enjoyable, exhilarating, and plenty of fresh air'.

It is about aspirations - we are passionate about helping people achieve their aspiration; however far they want to go, we will take them there and probably a bit further too.

A volunteer who is a wheelchair user, swore he was never going to get in a boat, we took him sailing, he is now hooked and his target this year is to sail solo!

It's about enriching people's lives - we all get involved in Sailability for lots of different reasons, but we are developing a real sense of a community. Another of our sailors said that since his accident 20 years ago, this is the first time he has been involved in a regular, social and healthy social outdoor activity, and it is making a real difference for him.

These two boats, Hansa 303's are the Landrovers of the accessible sailing world - Simple, robust and stable. They can be sailed two up, or single handled, and can be adapted for people with severe physical disabilities with controls. The ability for people with severe disabilities to sail independently is something very special that we can do, and gives them a unique freedom on the water.

They are a great boat for just going out on the water & having fun, to learn to sail in and to race in!

We have started a race team, and have Team Chesil going to competitions, and will be running regional and national events for these boats here.

We have some old boats on loan to start with, but these need to be returned soon, so these two new boats form the start and the core of our own fleet.

So we hope you get a sense of why these boats are so important for us at Chesil Sailability, and how they will give great pleasure & make a real difference to people's lives, week in and week out, over many years to come.

We would like to thank Mrs Shipley for her enormous generosity through the Rod Shipley Memorial Fund.

We invited her to name these two boats Rod Shipley 1 & Rod Shipley 2, followed by celebration of tea and cake for the many guests that attended.