More than 130 islanders – including over 70 people with a range of disabilities – had a fun and rewarding experience on the water at Cowes Sailability Club’s Open Days.
Two Open Days on 8-9 May, organised by Cowes Sailability Club, provided free boating and sailing excursions for adults and children with physical disabilities, learning difficulties and long-term medical conditions. The event was attended by 73 people with complex needs, along with 63 accompanying family members and carers, and led to lots of fun and laughter on the water.
Claire Holley, whose nine-year-old daughter has a rare chromosome deletion, says, “The day was really exciting for the whole family. My daughter had the opportunity to helm and loved the feel of the wind against her face. Every time that the boat rocked in the wake of a passing boat, she smiled and giggled which was so lovely to see.”
The Open Days were made possible through the support of East Cowes Marina, the Royal Yachting Association and other local charities. Twenty separate excursions took place over the two days, on three different wheelchair accessible vessels: a speedboat owned by the record-breaking disabled yachtsman Geoff Holt MBE DL; a sailing catamaran chartered from the Gwennili Trust; and Cowes Sailability Club’s own motor catamaran, Dougal.
“Having three wheelchair-friendly boats available for islanders to enjoy at the same time is a first for the Isle of Wight and demonstrates our commitment to offering boating opportunities for children and adults with disabilities,” says Patrick de Peyer, commodore of Cowes Sailability Club. “Seeing so many smiling, laughing people at our Open Days was very rewarding.”