There are Sailability clubs dotted around the globe – nine of them are in New Zealand. Their aim is simple – to spread the joy of sailing to anyone.
Sailing coach Katy Kenah and one of Sailability's newest recruits.
Sailability Hawkes Bay was the third club to be set up in New Zealand and each week dozens of sailors head out from the Napier marina to enjoy the sea air and the freedom of sailing.
Napier’s Samuel Gibson had never considered sailing could be an option for him. Samuel uses a wheel chair and has a condition called Brittle Bones.
When the founder of Sailability Hawkes Bay, Katy Kenah asked him if he’d like to try sailing, Samuel agreed, “Just to make her go away really… because I didn’t think it was going to work.”
After an hour on the water, Samuel was sailing solo.
“It was one of those light bulb moments for me… I can honestly say that I’ve got a good amount of salt water in my veins these days and I don’t think that’s going to change. It’s something that once it’s got you it just doesn’t let go.”
Samuel is one of about 50 people who sail regularly with Sailability Hawkes Bay. And while some of the sailors have physical disabilities, others are on the autism spectrum and there are a number with intellectual disabilities, they all share a love of being out on the water.
Samuel says sailing gives him a sense of freedom.
“On land I’m not mobile at all on my own steam, so out there on the water; it really brings a whole new dimension to that word ‘freedom’. I’m as capable as a sailor I guess, as anyone on the water.”
Otis Horne in action.