Hansa 303’s lined up ready for the Para-sailing Development Programme
Sailability Antigua is the only programme of its kind running in the Caribbean Region. Located at the National Sailing Academy in English Harbour, the programme was bought to Antigua by retired English couple Bob and Sue Bailey. Entirely volunteer-based from their standpoint, with the support of a number of corporate partners and the infrastructure in place at the National Sailing Academy, they provide the ability for up to 85 youths and adults who are disabled, to enjoy the experience of sailing on a weekly basis.
In two weeks-time coaches and sailors from 10 countries around the region will convene in Antigua to attend a Para-Olympic Development Programme which is being hosted by World Sailing. Attendees of the programme will gain an understanding of how to instruct people who are either physically or mentally challenged with a view to more countries setting up a similar programme across the region. Here in Antigua, Bailey sees that there is still an opportunity to grow the programme further.
‘Until now we have had difficulty including physically challenged people on the programme because our boats are only accessible from a steep staircase onto the dock. Thanks to the Jumby Bay Fund we have just completed work on a new docking area which includes a ramp for wheelchair accessibility and a hoist which will allow us to lift people directly from their wheelchair into the boat.’ He went on to say, ‘According to World Health Organization statistics there are an estimated 2000 people in Antigua and Barbuda with physical and mental disabilities and it is our objective to reach as many of them as possible and include them in the programme.’
To kick start what will be a two-week festival of Sail at the National Sailing Academy. The new dock will be officially opened by the Governor General, Dr. Sir Rodney Williams, this coming Sunday, January 13th. Aside from a barbecue, drinks, and music, people will have the opportunity to do free sailing on one of the Hansa 303’s. It’s a great opportunity to try sailing with an instructor in a protected bay.
Following on from the Fun Day, the boats will be used for two weeks. Week one will be for the normal lessons which take place at the Academy; this will include youths who attend the school’s programme and in week two for the Para-Olympic Development Programme.
Sail training is available at the National Sailing Academy year-round for youths and adults. Youths who attend the programme as part of the National Curriculum do so for free. Other lessons are charged at a very affordable rate.