The East Anglian Sailing Trust (EAST), a charity that offers sailing for the blind and disabled, is running a taster week from 11th to 17th May on the River Orwell at Suffolk Yacht Harbour, Levington, Ipswich IP10 0LN. The event is part of the Royal Yachting Association’s national ‘Push the Boat Out’ initiative that supports sailing clubs all over the country to run events to encourage sailing for all ages and abilities.
This year, EAST has launched a squib keelboat with joystick control of the main sail and tiller. Developed and produced in the trust’s workshop at Suffolk Yacht Harbour, the system provides hands-on control for sailors with only left or right hand movement, or with little strength. The helm sits forward in a comfortable seat from where the sailor can see forwards and operate the joystick. The crew sits in the normal helm position to operate the jib sheets and take over the tiller and main sail sheet if necessary.
EAST Chairman, Geoff Dreher said, “We aim to provide sailing opportunities for all, whatever their ability. This joystick controlled boat will allow our sailors with limited movement or strength in their arms or hands to get even more involved in sailing the boat.
“The purpose of the taster days is to demonstrate how much fun sailing can be under safe and controlled conditions, with keelboats available for have-a-go sessions throughout. Most importantly the taster days will demonstrate the sense of camaraderie, freedom and normality sailing with EAST can bring to people with restricted mobility and other disabilities.”
Disability advocate, travel writer and presenter, Emily Yates will be at EAST for the event and said: “I’m a huge supporter of anything that offers opportunities and support for those with disabilities, but EAST provides that little bit extra in two ways. Firstly, the idea of being able to sail independently and with freedom is something that is a rare thought for many with additional needs, but EAST makes it possible. Furthermore EAST is supported by many amazing volunteers, some who have experience of disability themselves. The whole experience encourages a warm community of knowledgeable people, I can’t wait to get stuck in!”
For more information or to book call: 0333 088 3278 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org