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Melges 14 2019 Leaderboard

Paralysed sailor sets sights on World Championship in Japan

by David Durston 15 Apr 2018 11:27 BST
David Durston during the Hansa Europeans at Meze, France © Nicola Durston

It was a massive shock and a great shame that sailing was dropped from the Paralympics. There is a campaign to get it reinstated, and Paraworld Sailing are running events for the classes of boats which are being evaluated: the 2.4, Hansa 303 single, and the RS Venture.

Typically funding is only available to support Elite athletes in Paralympic classes, but what if your severity of your disability prevents you from being able to sail competitively in those classes? Within the Hansa fleet, the largest boat is the Liberty: featuring a supportive central seat, it enables people with even the most severe disabilities to compete on level terms through the use of motors for helming and sheets.

Last year 8 Liberty sailors from the U.K. travelled to the south of France for the Hansa European Championship, with 5 finishing in the top 7. In 2016, 9 competitors travelled to the Hansa World Championships in Medemblik, and achieved 3 top 10 positions. The regattas are 'open' events, meaning that people with varying levels of disability will be competing against able bodied sailors who sail manually. David Durston finished 3rd and 7th respectively, and sails using motors to operate the jib and main sheet because he has no active hand function, and is paralysed below his shoulders following a spinal cord injury 19 years ago.

Now he is working to get himself (and his wife who will be his full time carer and boat rigger!), his adapted boat, and all the necessary support, to the 2018 World Championships to be held in Hiroshima, Japan in October. Hansa are hoping that this will be their largest event yet, with a target of 200 boats. David is also Treasurer and a Trustee for the Hansa Class UK and wants to also raise funds to help Hansa provide more support to other disabled sailors in the future. He has an inspirational story to tell, and is willing to do public speaking in return for donations to him, or to Hansa. Or of course any direct donations would be welcome.

He has put together a web site with more information: www.flyingphoenix2.com

You can give through crowdfunding to David at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/daviddurston or to the Hansa Class UK at mydonate.bt.com/charities/hansaclassuk

Registered Charity 11654670

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