A weekly sailing program run by the Cairns Yacht Club (CYC) is putting the wind back in the sails of local people with a disability.
The CYC Sailors with a Disability Program runs each Tuesday and Thursday at the Marlin Marina, weather permitting. The program currently supports around 15 participants with a range of physical and intellectual disabilities, with the help of more than 20 volunteers. Skippers Aaron Dee, Andy Murray and Gordon Raleigh manage the two dinghies and safety boat used in the program.
Gordon (pictured right) has been the program’s champion since it started in November 2014 and is well-known for his passion for inclusion, having been on the Sports CONNECT Education presenter team since 1999.
With the support of the CYC, the program has become one of the most inclusive sailing programs in the region with modified equipment including winches to lower participants into the boats and ramp access in and around the marina. The program’s flexibility ensures participants can be as independent as possible.
Participant Bob Moore says the program “is a brilliant opportunity to connect with friends”.
“There is an excellent culture that promotes a safe, learning and social environment,” he said.
Gordon and his team of supporters are already looking ahead to expanding the program, with another two adaptive boats on their way up to Cairns and a campaign underway to fund another.
“We hope to continue to develop the program with more boats and members, so we can cater for those who are interested in both the social and competitive side of sailing,” Gordon said.
For more information about the CYC Sailors with a Disability program, visit http://www.cairnsyachtclub.com/dinghys/disability-sail-training/ or contact Gordon on 0411524 262.