Famed for his designs which are adapted to suit disabled sailors MITCHELL, in collaboration with Julian BETHWAITE, designer of 18 foot skiffs, 29ers and the Olympic 49er skiff, designed the SKUD - the first skiff ever raced by the disabled and severely disabled.
The SKUD is like all racing skiffs in that it is fast, can be sailed by people of any ability or disability and gives sailors a real 'buzz'. A great learning boat for the young who are looking at a career in skiffs, it also makes great viewing for spectators - along the same lines of the famous 18 footers sailed in Sydney.
Only three of these new boats presently exist in Australia, with more on the way. Entries at Sail Melbourne include Ame BARNBROOK (AUS), Denis CRITCHLEY (AUS) and Paul BORG (AUS). All three will sail with able-bodied crews at this first event.
The only female skipper in the event, BARNBROOK is an 18 year old Victorian born with Phocoamelia, a condition that manifests itself by the absence of limbs. Her crew is Leigh DUNSTAN (AUS), an experienced Cherub sailor
Her long term goal is to become a barrister and the feisty teenager loves swimming and is a consummate trumpet player.
In 1995, after a chance meeting with Chris MITCHELL, she tried his Access 2.3 Dinghy design and is now committed, having achieved International status in that class. First participating in the national championships in 1996, since then she has won state and national tiles.
BARNBROOK has lived in NSW for some years now where she trains with her dedicated brother at Narooma, on the Far South Coast of NSW.
BORG, from Victoria, is a blind sailor in possession of a healthy sense of humour. He will be crewed by young Melbourne sailor Morgan STALEY (AUS), son of Sail Melbourne's former long term co-ordinator David STALEY. STALEY has sailed various classes from an early age and has been out practicing on the boat with his Dad.
BORG is a Victorian Disabled Sailor of the Year award winner and in 2006 won the Australian Sailor of the Year with a Disability after skippering his way to winning the 2005 International Match Racing Championships for Blind people in Italy.
On accepting the latter award from Princess Anne at a big function in Sydney, BORG offered to take the Princess on a 'blind date' and brought the house down.
CRITCHLEY is a paraplegic who helped Sailability NSW with its beginnings at Gosford in March 1995, when he and other sailors with disabilities envisaged how they could be integrated into the broader sailing community.
The dream became a reality for the group when they started sailing yachts off CRITCHLEY's private pier. The Gosford sailors would later agree to relinquish the name 'Sailability NSW', so that a state-wide umbrella organization could develop under that name.
Racing in the new class got underway at 13:00 today in their ten race series which finishes on Friday.
Sail Melbourne will be included in the first running of the ISAF World Cup© series for the Olympic Classes. For more on the ISAF World Cup© CLICK HERE.
For all the news on Sail Melbourne CLICK HERE.