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Safe sailing for disabled people

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Feb. 10 / 2015
Big day: Former Rotary Whangaparaoa president Don Eagleson, Gulf Harbour Yacht Club Rear Commodore Peter Cooke, Whangaparaoa Rotarians Roger Owles and Geoff Horwood, and RodneyMPMark Mitchell celebrate the opening of the Sailability Centre at Fairway Bay.

A new Sailability Centre to help get disabled people sailing has been launched at Fairway Bay in Gulf Harbour.

Funds raised by the Rotary Club of Whangaparaoa at a November charity dinner and auction, with guest speaker Harold Bennett of America’s Cup fame, helped provide a personnel crane and two Hansa 303 boats for the centre.

Additional support came from sausage sizzles at Pak ’n Save Silverdale.

Rodney MP Mark Mitchell and wife Peggy, who christened the two boats with bubbly, officially opened the centre before more than 70 people.

‘‘Without the excellent and very effective work that was done by all the participants in this venture, especially the support from local businesses, we would not all be celebrating this success,’’ Mitchell says.

Sailability Auckland chairman Brendan Tourelle and New Zealand 2012 Paralympian Tim Dempsey, also of Sailability, thank everyone who contributed. Support came from Rotary Whangaparaoa, The Halberg Disability Sport Foundation, the June Grey Charitable Trust, Rotary International District 9910, and especially Fairway Bay and the Gulf Harbour Yacht Club.

Club Commodore John Weston welcomes the new facility that will provide safe sailing for people with disabilities.

First to set sail were 2012 Paralympian sailor Jan Apel, accompanying Roy Bartlett who has not sailed for years and was the first to use the new crane provided by Rotary Whangaparaoa.

They were soon followed by Belinda Edwards with Sailability instructor Taylor Mitchell.

The first official Sailability Regatta at Fairway Bay, operated by the Gulf Harbour Yacht Club, is on February 14 and 15.

“There is indeed much to look forward to at this great new venue for sailors with disabilities,” Rotary Whangaparaoa president Brian Mullan says. “I am so glad that I was able to become involved with Sailability through the Rotary Club of Grantham in the UK and to be inspired by the Rotary involvement there. Supporting Sailability in New Zealand has for the past few years been an ambition of mine – now fulfilled thanks to the great support that Rotary Whangaparaoa received for this new centre.”

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