Sailability International meets at IFDS YES Conference, Amsterdam
Portugal is certainly one of the countries were sailing should be a national sport. However, as time goes by, this country of sailors has been loosing his capability to sail. Although this is not entirely true, today sailing is located at yacht clubs, with their backs turned to the population in general, and for this reason only very few Portuguese sail. Furthermore, the prices of boats or any other sailing material are to high for the majority of the population.
With this scenario as background, the idea of funding an Association for disabled sailors in Portugal seems to be something with no chances at all to survive. Yet, a sum of circumstances allowed to invite Chris and Jackie from SAILABILITY to visit us. So, in few months an idea grew very fast, sponsors appeared and several persons of Porto and Algarve joined their efforts to build the APVA - Portuguese Adapted Sailing Association - Sailability Portugal.
However, we do not forget the important support given by CNFafe - Clube Náutico de Fafe, ARVN - Associação Regional de Vela do Norte (Porto), Governo Civil do Porto and CIMAV - Clube Internacional da Marina de Vilamoura, who sponsored us with institutional recognition, logistic and financial support among others.
The presence at Porto of a "Raquero" class school-boat and the very recent acquisition of an electric 2.3 Dinghy allowed to start a school with disabled persons and at the same time to teach sailing for nondisabled persons that will, in future, help disabled sailors.
Since then, several demonstrations have been made to hundreds of persons and an enthusiastic movement is growing.
At this moment, many projects, aiming to acquire dinghies and support boats, were delivered to local town halls and are still waiting for approval, but we are already sure that we will sail!
By Bruno Valentim Sailability Portugal
It is the conviction of the Portuguese Adapted Sailing Association (APVA – Associação Portuguesa de Vela Adaptada) that the way any person sees himself depends, among other factors, of her degree of autonomy. In the case of severe disabled persons, as in many cases, autonomy is lost very near to 100%. By sailing solo, in total safety, it is most certainly that, at least the feeling of autonomy will be improved in those persons.
Apart from the solo or non-solo sailing question, our Association was concerned, since the beginning of its formation that no double discrimination of disabled persons should be made, i.e.:
NO DISCRIMINATIONS BASED ON PHYSICAL ABILITY, and;
NO DISCRIMINATION BASED ON ECONOMIC STATUS, RACE, RELIGION AND POLITIC OPINION.
Therefore, the development of the Portuguese national programme started with manual and electric servo-assisted boats that are not expensive. This way, sponsors feel very comfortable to sponsor our programme and, step-by-step, from 2002 up to 2004 the number of disabled sailing boats increased from zero to thirty-three boats. And we are expecting that in the next five years we will multiply the number by ten.
If that’s the case, by 2008 in Beijing there will be a pyramid of Portuguese disabled sailors from which we can select skilful sailors, comprising all physical functionalities, to participate in all classes of paralimpic boats, i.e.: Sonar, 2.4 and, let’s hope so, ACCESS Liberty.
Unfortunately, or not, it has been more easy to acquire Liberties than Sonar or 2.4, once the former it is not yet recognized as a paralimpic class. In fact, the low prices of the Liberties give us no other alternative than buy them and promote championships. Additionally, for those that are familiarized with the ACCESS class, the three models can be combined among themselves to promote: (i) initiation; (ii) practice, and; (iii) competition. All of them at very low cost.
The sum of these three factors is also enhancing educational projects apart from the ones that are purely recreational. Therefore, institutional protocols are being held between APVA, schools and universities. And this is promoting inclusion of the disabled students in the physical activity practice because they can sail a boat side-by-side with their colleagues without any disadvantage.
So we have no doubts that we are in the right way in the promotion of disabled sailing and it would be a great achievement for us that our work can be viewed as an example and help to promote the recognition of the ACCESS Liberty as a paralimpic class.
Finally, we conclude that if the visible face of the disabled sport are the paralimpics the inclusion of a total autonomy boat for severe disabled sailors will have major repercussions not only in the future of disabled sailing but also to severe disabled persons inclusion in the society by showing their outstanding performances.
Oporto-Portugal, 30 of Mach of 2004
The Portuguese Association of Adapted Sailing (APVA) is affiliated at the Portuguese Sailing Federation that in turn is affiliated at IFDS. Additionally, is also part of Sailability International by promoting sailing for all. Therefore, since the beginning of our young association our aim was to include severe disabled potential sailors and avoid expensive sailing. Slowly but steady the number of our sailors increased together with the number of available boats. Furthermore, during our first year, we have endorsed a major movement towards demonstrations and divulgation based on the ACCESS class of boats and the result was the creation of groups located at Algarve (CIMAV), Lisbon (Clube Náutico da Boa Esperança and Clube do Mar da Expo), Nazaré (Cercina and Clube Náutico da Nazaré), Figueira da Foz (Clube Náutico da Figueira da Foz), Porto and Madeira Island (Clube Náutico do Funchal).
However, our major event was the participation at the 1st ACCESS Liberty World Championship. In that meeting our sailors end up in second and seventh positions, i.e., overcoming all our previsions and expectations. Additionally, experience and know-how were obtained for our technicians and, finally, a marvelous staying at Melbourne provided new friends and the way of visit the old ones.
The future… well very soon we will have about thirty 2.3 wide seat in Portugal and three Liberties. That’s a huge responsibility because we will have to make decisions about “sailing for all” and new demands such as competition, to increase the number of new disabled sailors and deal with the high competition elite sailors that will emerge.It may seem hard but with good winds the boat will certainly get there.
By Bruno Valentim Sailability Portugal
Florida's Sailability Says "Captain Your Own Boat."