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Do you live in the Nelson district? Do you or your child have a disability, and are you/they keen to try sailing?

The Nelson Yacht Club has taken a big step forward, as have more than ten clubs already around New Zealand, to make the most of some adaptive equipment for people of all abilities to get into the sport of sailing.

With the support of numerous sponsors, Sailability Nelson has a fleet of 5 specialist Hansa yachts designed to be sailed by people with a disability. In addition, we operate from a pontoon and with a C-Crane hoist can transfer sailors into yachts.

Key Information

  • Where: Nelson Yacht Club, 322 Wakefield Quay, Nelson
  • Who: People with disabilities of all ages
  • When: Fortnightly on Sundays during the sailing season
  • Time: 10am to 2pm
  • Contact: John MacDuff        027 424 5112

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Thinking about giving it a go but have some questions?

I have a disability- How can I go sailing?

Sailing is a sport that can be made possible for anybody. For people with a physical disability, boats can be modified to meet the individual needs of the sailor, whether that be with an electronic servo system (similar to using a power wheelchair) or just the standard accessible dinghies with centreline seats and joystick steering. If you can’t get yourself into the boat, there are lifting systems that can help you in and out.  Even the blind sailors have a developed system of communication on board the boats, and can use buoys with sound signals to let sailors know their location on the water.

Are there opportunities to race and participate in Regattas?

Yes. Once you have completed learn to sail and have the basic skills of steering and controlling the sails, you can start to enter regattas. There are a handful of events in NZ each year, and many more opportunities overseas as you progress. Sailing is in the Paralympics too, in three different types of boats.

Can the boats flip?

No. The ‘Hansa’ dinghies used in most NZ Sailability learn to sail courses, and Paralympic types of boats are made so that they cannot flip. This is done by placing lead in the centreboard or keel, so that no matter how hard the wind blows, the boat can’t tip over.

What other safety measures are in place?

When sailing, participants must wear a life jacket/ PFD and be supervised by a safety power boat on the water too. Each accessible sailing programme will organize to have an YNZ qualified instructor or coach, and a first aid officer on site. Weather conditions are always closely observed, if it is too windy sailing will be cancelled.

How can I get involved?

That’s the easy part! Just check out