Amputee Sports - Amputee Sailing

Amputee Sailing with the Disabled Sailing Association of BC

 

Amputee sailing is a sport that every amputee should try at least once. I have done a fair amount of kayaking over the years, about 8 seasons or so, and I have also had some ocean sailing experience with some friends in Victoria and Summerland BC. Compared to amount of work involved in getting my kayak launched, I had forgotten how easy it is to sail at the Disabled Sailing Association of British Columbia. I have actually experienced sailing here once, but it was many moons ago. So I show up ready to go with my kayak boot and my wet suit on, already to go, and all I had to do was hop in the boat and have somebody take care of my crutches and keys. It was so easy that this page should be entitled “Sailing for all disabililties”. I could have showed up in a tuxedo and had the same experience. I’ll know better next week when I go sailing again. Or maybe I’ll wear my wetsuit again. It depends on the weather.

Amputee Sailing on English Bay

 

This was the moment I had been waiting for since my kayak was stolen last year. Due to chronic shoulder problems, to me, that was a sign that I needed to hang up my paddle. But it did not mean I could no longer get out on the ocean, the same ocean that was calling my name, in some form or other. So I registered with the Disabled Sailing Association of BC (DSABC) and booked my first sail for June 2. It turned out to be a great afternoon after a somewhat rainy start to the day, and the plan was to go to Jericho Sailing Center, about 5 or 10 minutes from UBC, right after work.

Amputee Sailing close to Jericho Pier

 

The guys from DSABC, including my instructor, Rob, where just fantastic. Not only did they get me out quickly and on my way, they also went along with my request to get some pictures and video for my website page on amputee sailing. I basically took to it like a fish to water. The wind was excellent that day, my friends, and within a short time I was tacking and jibing all over the place. I’m still unsure of adjusting the sails, but the rudder control worked great. It was also controlled by Rob, who was sitting behind me. I remembered learning about the tell tales and how to read the wind, and it all came back to me so effortlessly. It’s something anybody with a disability can do, as the DSABC has 8 boats, all with 400 kg keels, and a lift/harness for anybody who requires that. More info on that can be found at all the DSABC website, including a registration form and schedule. Everybody there was so cool it made my day.

 

Sailing on English Bay with the Disabled Sailing Association of British Columbia

 

It is difficult to recount how exhilarating this was for me. It seemed like one minute I was at work and then a half an hour later I was out sailing on the ocean catching some pretty good wind. I am really looking forward to coming back next week as I already have another sail booked on June 16. Rob mentioned that they have races every Sunday. At this point, I have a lot more to learn before I take on solo sailing or racing, but the fun is in the doing. I can’t believe how much fun I had sailing on English Bay, with huge freighters and mountains within view on a beautiful sunny afternoon. Ideally, I hope this page encourages others to give amputee sailing a try. What a fantastic way to spend a couple hours out on the water. Go for it!

Amputee Sailing Resources:

Disabled Sailing Association of British Columbia

Able Sail/Can Sail Para

Disabled Sailing Association of Ontario

Disabled Sailing Association of Alberta

Sam Sullivan Disability Foundation