Drummoyne Sailing Club and Dobroyd Aquatic Club have joined forces to provide a special program for sailors. These sailors from Dobroyd are intellectually disabled and a program has been developed to teach them to sail and to develop their skill so that they can compete in racing.
Aside from the venue and the boats, Drummoyne Sailing Club supplies three Instructor/Coaches, a fuelled support boat with driver and on shore volunteers at Dobroyd Aquatic Club. (Thanks to Dennis Dodds, Margaret and John Sanderson, Don McCutcheon and Norbert D’Souza.)
Their work is paying off. Dobroyd/ Drummoyne Sailability took out first and second place in the NSW Hansa 303 State Titles doubles hosted by Gosford Sailing Club earlier this year, after two of the program participants put their hands up to go to the State titles. The sailors achieved exceptional results.
Gavin Harrison won four races on Saturday to win the title, coming from behind in three of these where he was a long way back in two. Nathaniel Quan sailed very well and improved throughout the regatta. There was symmetry to his placings two thirds, two seconds on Saturday and two wins on Sunday.
One of the instructors, John Sanderson, has written the following about the differences he has found in coaching these sailors in Hansa boats.
Training and Teaching Sailing – doing it sitting down.
Sitting in the same spot facing forward, steering with a joy stick, in a boat with a ballasted keel – what a different environment to sail in let alone for teaching or coaching.
Having taught and coached for twenty years in conventional dinghies and in yachts, it has been fascinating to work in Hansa boats and learn to use the differences and how they change how you teach. Generally you are removing items from the syllabus. No capsize and recovery drills; Tacking and gybing are simpler: Gone is the complexity of the helmsman having to change sides facing forward while watching where they are going while ducking the boom and swapping the tiller extension behind their backs without falling over.
An important simplification is steering with a joy stick – unlike a tiller you just point it in the direction you want to go.
Hansa boats are quite stable due to the ballasted keel; this is required as there is not much latitude for weight transfer and this suits those with limited mobility. The simple system of reefing is handy for reducing/increasing sail for conditions and for the student’s current ability. This alone increases the pupil’s confidence.
Knowing if you are on port or starboard tack can be a little tricky when you don’t sit on the windward side. We have created stickers “Wind this side; Port tack Give way” and “Wind this side, Starboard tack OK”. Similarly facing forward can take a bit of getting used to – when going downwind it is harder to know what the breeze is doing as you have turn your head a lot further.
For beginners you require one instructor for each student so this can be a resourcing limitation. We are getting some students sailing together in the right conditions and with a coach boat nearby.
Working with the intellectually disabled and getting them sailing such that they can complete in races has been extremely rewarding, for both the students and instructors.
My biggest tip is to have confidence in your students, give them the helm the whole time, particularly when returning to the dock. It is easy enough to add a joystick touch to make a correction. Give them lots of feedback and grow their confidence.
In general sailing is sailing and teaching it in different boats is still teaching sailing.
Giving people with disabilities an opportunity do something they could not have imagined they could do and for them to take control of their environment is fantastically rewarding.
If you would like get involved, Dobroyd Sailalibility would welcome you. Opportunities include; Sundays or Saturdays ever fortnight during summer, Wednesdays during summer school terms and monthly on Saturdays during winter or join their committee.
Contact Margy or John at [email protected] to get involved.