The YES Europe Conference concluded on Saturday 4 December 2004, Amsterdam, Netherlands having hosted 115 delegates from 33 nations. The Conference focused on attracting and supporting youth who are disabled into the sport of sailing.
The comprehensive Conference programme offered numerous workshops over the two days, which provided the opportunity to learn about best practice, alongside sharing experiences and networking.
Experts from the disabled sailing world chaired workshops, in between plenary sessions. The plenary sessions covered a wide range of topics, and brought all the delegates together for a combined session, including:
- Developing a National Sailing Programme - outlined some of the key points which need to be considered when setting up a programme, with examples of best practice presented on Portugal (Bruno VALENTIM), Sweden (Emma HALLEN) and USA (Hugh ELLOTT).
- Success with Young People - highlighted on attracting youngsters into the sport and ensuring the sport was 'fun' (Emma HALLEN and Jackie KAY)
- Sailing with Sensory Impaired Young People - included presentations from the Homerus project in Italy, and Blind Sailing in the UK, presented two different approaches using sound systems to aid sailors (Homerous, Blind Sailing International, Julian MANDIWALL).
- Inclusion - focused on making sailing accessible to severely disabled people and females (Jackie KAY, Irene WENTINK, Julia VECSEY)
- Working with Schools -included an inspiring presentation on the educational benefits, certification, legal requirements and integration of sailing within the school curriculum. Issues addressed included finding disabled youngsters to go sailing - and a great place to start is schools, and for disabled sailing organizations to work in partnership with schools. Some schools offer children the choice to take sailing as a formal secondary education exam. However, the ultimate focus was how sport can develop children's aptitude for learning (Marie HUNTER and Pauline HARRISON).
- Training Tools - introduced the IFDS Sailing Manual which blueprints best practices (Linda MERKLE and Pauline HARRISON)
Between the Plenary Sessions workshops were held which were a mix of sharing best practice, theory and practical sessions, including:
- Sailing Venues - Phil VARDY (AUS)
- Potential Sailors - John MORLEY (GBR)
- Young Volunteers - Linda MERKLE (USA)
- Training/Coaching - Serge JORGENSEN (USA)
- Boats - Ian HARRISON (GBR)
- Classification - Charles SIMPSON (CAN) and Jurgen SCHWITTAI (GER)
- Disability Awareness - Phil VARDY (AUS) and Jackie KAY (AUS)
- Fund Raising - Jan ROMME (NED)
- Cruising - Julian MANDIWALL (GBR)
- Elite Sailing - Serge JORGENSEN (USA) and Mark BARRON (GBR)
- Transferring - Phil VARDY (AUS) and Chris MITCHELL (AUS)
- Seating and Adaptations - Hugh ELLIOT (USA)
The conference centre swimming pool was put into use to demonstrate lifting techniques and display products on the market for assisting disabled sailors.
Eights boats were on display, giving a fantastic insight into the types of boats which can be used for disabled sailing, together with opportunities to look at boat adaptations and servo-assist devices.
A disabled sailing exhibition complimented the Conference, with many of the products discussed in the meetings on site.
Prior to the end of the Conference, delegates were split into partnership groups, which saw countries buddying and discussing future working partnerships.
In concluding the conference, retiring IFDS Chairman Ian HARRISON (GBR) described the YES-Europe Conference as a, 'Magical moment and fantastic progress for disabled sailing.' Sentiments echoed by the applause from the delegates.
The event was a first for IFDS, and only made possible by an EU grant and co-operation of all delegates.