See also Colin's Sailing History.

Access 303Late in 1995, I went to a disability expo that had these small sailboats being demonstrated on the river in front of the Expo venue in Melbourne. After trying one there, I decided that this could be an interesting pastime.

A new club was to be started on Albert Park Lake (around which the Melbourne Grand Prix track runs) and after talking to the boat builders in Dandenong, I was asked to develop a website for the Victorian "Sailing for Everyone" organisation and was made part of the committee to get the club up and running at Albert Park. It ran as Sailing for Everyone till early 1999 when we decided to move to St Kilda pier. Now we have a club at Docklands for four years that should become our permanent home, with four 2.3s, one 303 double seat and one Liberty single seat along with a rubber duckie safety boat.

I have really been enjoying the sailing I have done as it is very relaxing when conditions are mild and quite physically taxing when the wind picks up. The Access 2.3 is 2.3 metres long, quite cute and very easy to sail with only a mainsheet and a joystick controlled rudder to worry about. With a weighted keel and a seat very low down inside the hull, tipping over is barely possible so they are perfect for people with disabilities. There are even servo controlled models that can be steered and the sail adjusted all from an electric joystick.

The 303 is 3.03 metres long, has a main and forsail and is a more challenging boat. I've sailed the 303 in competition since 2000. Now I have a Liberty prototype, donated by Kangan Batman TAFE (where I work) that is 3.6 metres long and a real fun boat to sail. I raced raced in the Liberty Worlds in 2004 in a competition Liberty yacht sponsored by the Docklands Authority. The new main is taller and shorter in the foot and the forsail has more shape.

My dog Gizmo goes sailing in good weather and I have even built him his own life jacket. It is not just a floatation device, but also provides a handle to pick him up should he ever fall overboard.

I had intended to sail in the Australian Championships in Canberra in February 1998 but a broken hip from waterskiing two weeks before stopped that.

However I did sail on 5 March 1998 as part of the Australian Grand Prix Sailing Regatta. It was only a demonstration event but the three new design Access 303s were launched that day.

In February 1999, I went up to Canberra to sail a 303 in the Australian championships. A great time was had by all those two days. I can't say I sailed well but someone had to come last!

In February 2000, I again competed in the 303 class, which is open, against ten others whose disabilities ranged from non disabled people, through paraplegics, lower limb amputees, and a mild cerebral palsy, to me as the only quadriplegic. I fared much better and placed in the middle of my class. In subsequent years I competed in State, National and World competitions gaining 10th of 22 in the 2003 National 303 class (highest of any with any hand disability), 3rd in 303 in Victorian titles in 2002, 2nd in 303 in 2004 Victorian and 1st Servo Liberty, 2nd overall Liberty and 1st International at the 2004 Nationals, 2nd Liberty and 1st Servo at 2005 Victorian titles and fourth in the 2004 Single Person IFDS Worlds.

The Access 303

The Access 303 is 3.03 metres long with both a jib and main and a larger cockpit. They sail really well with one person and have the pointing and speed that the 2.3 lacks. They also take two large adults with ease and handle rough water and high wind speed better.

This is me sailing a 303. Note the arm holding me to the upwind side.

I have a wonderful time sailing the 303, as do all the others who try them. The Liberty is a totally new yacht with its single seat, high sides that allow it to heel to over 45 degrees yet still stay dry. Mine has full electric servos that seer it and winch in and out the main and foresail independently or together, all via a small joystick.

See my story "Wind and Waves".

My aim for 2005 is to compete in the Liberty World Championships in Subaudia Italy (about 100 kms south of Rome on the Mediteranian) in October 2005.

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