General Sailing for OAPs and Disabled
The healthy and thrilling pleasures of sailing are not the reserve of the young and active - it is open to everybody that is willing to give it a try. Older generation’s, people with disabilities, including those in wheelchairs or with visual and hearing impairments, can all join in and achieve a level of independence not possible in most other sports.
Elderly SailorsAs the elderly population demographic continues to grow there are more and more active retired people looking to get involved in healthy outdoor activities. As sailing does not require much physical strength and does not put undue stress on the body, it provides an ideal opportunity for some relaxing gentle exercise and a lungful of restorative sea air. Elderly sailors are usually a welcome addition to any sailing club because they can use their skills and experience in club management and also become mentors for the younger sailors.Nevertheless elderly people who suffer from age related disabilities can still enjoy the water now that more and more sailing centres across the UK are taking on board the Royal Yachting Association’s (RYA) new Sailability programme.
RYA SailabilitySailability is programme designed by the RYA to encourage and offer the opportunities for disabled people to experience the joys of sailing. According to the RYA, sailing is one of the few sports in which disbaled and able bodied participants can compete on equal terms. The programme aims to promote sailing to everyone regardless of not just disability but age and financial status.
Ages from 10 and upwards, experienced and beginner sailors, people with a wide range of disabilities - all are welcome to take part in the programme. All that is required is a statement from a doctor confirming that the applicant’s disability is compatible with sailing.
There are over two hundred clubs around the UK that offer the wide range of special facilities needed to aid those with disabilities get out on the water, including launching ramps, hoists and specially adapted changing room. Of these some are RYA-approved training centres which offer sailing training.
As well as training programmes, there are also opportunities for taking part in competitive racing, offshore sailing as well as social evenings onshore.
Offshore SailingIf you want to open up a whole new world to explore then programmes across the UK offer the opportunities to experience the liberating feeling of cruising across the open sea. There are many different organisations around the UK offering specialised sailing for disabled sailors in specially modified craft. These typically provide assisted cruising for afternoons, two-day or one-two week cruises as well as training sessions and social get-togethers.
Types of BoatDifferent sailing clubs across the UK offer a variety of specially adapted boats for disabled sailors. These are usually available free of charge to Sailability members after a small membership fee. Types of boats available include Access Dinghies, 2.4 Metre Keelboats and Tall Ships.
Access Dinghies are designed so that they will not capsize and have controls that can be adapted to suit the skipper in charge. These are the most common adapted vessels and can be used for both cruising and racing.
The 2.4 Metre Keelboat is a miniature version of the famous 12 Metre America’s Cup yachts. It is a racing vessel designed to be both exciting and safe, and alongside the Sonar, is the chosen boat at the Paralympics, as well as being a popular at club level competitions. For more ambitious voyages, vessels like the three masted Lord Nelson or Tenacious are available for cruises with the Jubilee Sailing Trust, who arrange cruises lasting between 5 and 30 days.
These ships use a so called 'buddy system' which means that when on board the disabled sailer is paired up with an abled bodied sailer to assit them in tending to all a crew member’s responsibilities.
Sailing holidaysDisabled sailors can learn the learn ropes of yacht cruising in the standard series of RYA-accredited courses including Competent Crew and Day Skipper in the glorious weather of the Mediterranean with the Aegean Sailing School.
There are companies that offer sailing holiday charters in vessels that cater for people who need more specialised facilities and greater accessibility, including those with visual or physical disabilities, as well as senior citizens and very tall people. The yachts are usually helmed by a full-time captain and are designed to allow easy access and roomy comfort once on board.
Whether as a recreation, a competitive sport or a therapeutic activity, sailing offers a new lease of life to those who feel that their age and disabilities impede them from enjoying life on the water.