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"When discovering new oceans, one must first have courage to lose sight of the shore..."

From Rugby to Rudders

What happens when a group of non-sailors try out sailing for the very first time?

I’m not barking mad!

It has taken 9 years to hopefully finally dispel the belief amongst my wheelchair rugby teammates that I am in fact barking mad. The main reason for this belief is, I think, because I go sailing. This might seem perfectly reasonable as a pastime to most people, but I sustained quite a high level spinal injury 15 years ago. This means that I have no hand function, limited arm strength, no balance or core strength, no temperature control, I can’t swim, and I float the wrong way up. So why on earth would I want to sit in a tiny dinghy, getting cold and wet, at the mercy of the wind?

 s4eYesterday, Whitefriars Sailability Group ran a taster session for 8 members of the two wheelchair rugby teams that I am involved with: The South Wales Pirates, and a new team which has recently set up in Gloucester. Nobody had sailed before, and everyone was quite nervous about how it would work in their disabled state. Fortunately, Hansa, RS, and Bristol Sailability lent the club boats with suitable adaptations to meet the variety of needs of the sailors. Some required supportive seating, electric winches for adjusting the sails, and servo-assisted steering. Others lacked confidence and were reassured by having an instructor in the boat with them. A few were able to cope in a Wayfarer without any adaptations. We were blessed with a warm, sunny day, and a moderate wind; making it a perfect day for sailing. Everybody came off the water buzzing, and I’m quite sure we’ll see a few of the novices again to join the club and hone their skills.

“Really enjoyed the day and having boats with the right adaptations set up gave a really idea about what is possible. The staff and helpers on the day were really helpful, supportive, knowledgeable and friendly. Certainly want to try it again.” – Steve

“The sailing was tranquil and relaxing the first time we were taken out by one of the helpers. The second time was my first time solo and a great learning curve and adrenalin rush all rolled into one. A great experience that I will definitely try again and again.” - Keith

 s4eThis is why I fell in love with sailing. Even people with the most profound disabilities can adapt a boat to suit their needs; giving them complete control and independence. There is no reason why with the right equipment in place that anybody with a disability cannot compete at any level, be it class racing against others in the same kind of boat, Paralympics, or even against able-bodied sailors at your local club.

Whitefriars are an integrated club, and encourage people with disabilities to get fully involved with the club, and racing. Equally if racing is not for you, it is fantastic to enjoy the independence of being in complete control of a boat by yourself, and to enjoy the Cotswold scenery and wildlife. It is also a fantastic sport that families can do together. People at the taster day were also surprised how inexpensive it can be as a sport.

Hopefully, everybody now gets why I love sailing. At least on one count, I think I’ve proved I’m not mad!

Please like this post so that more people are aware of sailing and what is possible! Visit:

(The preceeding article was written by David Durston, a Liberty sailor from the UK, and is reproduced here with his permission.)

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About the Logo - "The Hansa"

The actual logo design came from an Airline TV advertisement which showed a swan in slow motion flight, its head stationary with the neck undulating in a subtle wave as its wings powered it along.

The simplest explanation for its origin is the bird is a swan, and a swan in Sanskrit is a Hansa. Influence can be seen in Indonesian and Malay languages where a Goose (or a swan) is an Angsah. Sanskrit is actually the language of the ancient white Aryan race who once dominated central Asia, and German philosophers have often derived inspiration from its traditions. One honourable legacy of this is the great world airline, Lufthansa...



Patron for S4e

Sailing for Everyone Foundation is pleased to announce that His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd), Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, has accepted Patronage of s4e.

Sailing for Everyone Foundation (formerly the Access Dinghy Foundation) has had a connection with the Office of the Governor-General since 1998 when Sir William Deane AC, KBE became ADF's first Official Patron...



The Inclusive Sailing Concept

Sailing is a sport, or recreation that is declining in popularity due in part to its complexity, its perceived elite-ness, and the poor way it is promoted in a crowded marketplace. This is compounded by the entry level craft recommended and used by the peak global sailing bodies being pitched too high:

  • Skills required to sail them are too high.
  • Movement of bodyweight is necessary to prevent a capsize.
  • The steering is by a back to front tiller which turns the boat in opposite direction to where you expect to go.
  • This results in over complication which leads to capsize and dunking which scare away many more newcomers than it attracts.



“Disability is God given, Handicap is man made”

There cannot be full inclusion without utilising the principles of Universal Design… But what is Universal Design?

Universal Design is a worldwide movement based on the concept that all products, environments and communications should be designed to consider the needs of the widest possible array of users.  Universal Design is also known around the world as “design for all”, “inclusive design” and “lifespan design”...



The excitement is infectious when reading people's comments about Hansa Dinghies and the difference they are making to the lives of thousands of people around the world.

  • The sailing was tranquil and relaxing the first time we were taken out by one of the helpers. The second time was my first time solo and a great learning curve and adrenalin rush all rolled into one. A great experience that I will definitely try again and again.

    Keith - first time sailor, Gloucester, UK

  • One particular aspect of activities which is always inspiring is the wonderful stories, smiles and happy tears of those involved. So many hearts have been touched. The success lies in the physical and emotional experiences that sailing fosters.

    I believe that whenever one is doing something connected with Hansa boats, one is somehow linked to a 'higher source'. This energy is so pure it is no surprise that our network is growing worldwide!

    Timothy Hone - Orange, New South Wales, Australia

  • There's a rhythm to the wind and waves that stays with me for hours after I return my craft to its berth, and my body to the wheelchair.

    Zoltan Pegan, Hungary

  • Tell Chris that boats are excellent, made carefully and with love. The boats are a success. We have junior students every weekend. Congratulations to you for the very beautiful work, spread them around the world. Thank you.

    Mauro Osorio - CEO - Núcleo de Vela Adaptada de Brasília

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