Sail Able program returns
Northern Yacht Club welcomes people with disabilities
Sailing program for people with disabilities is back in the water.
This summer the Northern Yacht Club is doing its part to make sure everyone has a chance to enjoy the open seas — regardless of limitations.
“You just feel like you’re making that much of a difference for people with these disabilities — when you get them on the water, it’s just sheer joy,” said junior sailing head coach Georgina Hatcher.
Hatcher and other trained instructors teach people with physical or developmental disabilities to sail. Last year the program was cancelled due to a lack of instructors. This year the Northern Yacht Club is fully staffed and enthusiastic to spread the word that they’re back.
Sail Able administrator Maggie Bunbury said there’s already interest in the community this time around.
“There’s a sledge hockey team that’s interested, we’ve also had people who have done it in previous years that are really excited too.”
Bunbury said she’s seen firsthand how beneficial the program can be.
“Its something new, they really get stimulated by having new experiences and just to contact people in their community they wouldn’t see in the run of a day,” Bunbury added. “Sailing on the water for anybody is a great experience.”
Hatcher said it’s a joy for everyone involved in the program, including herself as an instructor.
“They really love getting out there. They feel so involved with the boat and the sailing community, so myself I just love to be able to share my sailing skills with people in that way.”
The program started in 2013 with four people registered — that number increased to seven in 2014 and 10 in 2015.
This season, the Northern Yacht Club aims to blow those numbers out of the water.
Today, the club will have an information/registration session from 7- 9 p.m. to welcome newcomers or anyone interested in learning more about Sail Able.
The club has an open house scheduled for June 24 from 1-3 p.m. so future sailors can meet their instructors and other people who are joining the program.
The specialized yacht, the Freedom Independence, will also be at the Northern Yacht Club for the open house so people in the program can see it first-hand.
The program is set to begin on July 3 with 90-120-minute sails costing $5.
Head coach Georgina Hatcher, left, and Sail Able administrator Maggie Bunbury stand in front of the Northern Yacht Club in North Sydney.