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Sailability Keelboat League welcomes sailors back on the water

by Susie Nation-Grainger, RYA 24 Sep 06:18 BST 16-17 September 2021
Sailability Keelboat League © RYA

Over 30 sailors of all abilities took to the water at Portland Harbour (WPNSA) for the 2021 RYA Sailability Keelboat League last week (16-17 September).

The theme of the event was 'rock up and race' and for many of the sailors it marked a celebration of being back on the water after a significant break during the pandemic. The eight teams competing included Blind Sailing, LimbPower, Oceans of Hope, Invictus Games and Sailability.

Linny was competing with the Invictus Games team. "We've had the opportunity to reunite which has been brilliant. I have a knee and back injury plus PTSD so I find the tranquility of the water helps and the adrenaline of racing.

"Competitors have been a little apprehensive and hopefully this will show people that with sensible routines it's safe to get back into the environment. Hopefully people will have the confidence to come out and do a little bit of sailing again and feel that love, joy and little butterflies."

Oceans of Hope team member Sarah adds: "I love the opportunity of being out on the water and being able to sail in an environment that is suited for people with disabilities. Our Sailability group didn't sail for two years, we've just started in the last couple of months. It was very sad because it made you feel even more restricted because sailing is so freeing, you're out in such a big space. It felt wonderful to get back on the water again, like a big sigh of relief".

The teams competed in Elliot 6M Keelboats with 12 races short races each day. The Blind Sailing Team (Adam Parry, Fran Neale, Judith Spencer and Elna Piras) were crowned overall winners earning a place in the British Keelboat League final held at Poole Yacht Club.

RYA Sailability Manager Joff McGill said: "The Sailability Keelboat League welcomed sailors of all experiences, some had previously competed at international level and others were racing on the water for the very first time. Not only were there some really exciting races but it was also a fantastic opportunity to spend time together off the water".

Sailability is the national programme run by sailing's governing body, the RYA, giving disabled people the chance to try sailing and to take part regularly. There is a network of more then 200 RYA-approved Sailability sites across Britain, which have boats and facilities to cater for people across the whole spectrum of abilities.

To find out more about sailing opportunities for disabled people, or those that need specific support to get on-the-water visit www.rya.org.uk/sailability.

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