Sail Melbourne 2004 International Regatta is proud to count the IFDS Dinghy Worlds, as one of their events, which provides an opportunity to showcase to the world an international standard regatta for people with high level disability.
Conducted by Yachting Victoria, the event is to be hosted by Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, from January 13-22 and is open to sailors with an IFDS 1 or 2 Functional Classification, participants will include sailors with profound physical disabilities such as paraplegia and quadriplegia.
Already 25 entries have been received from seven countries, and those to watch in the IFDS 'two' category include Sydney based Zoltan PEGAN representing Hungary and Australia's 2.4mR representative at the Sydney Paralympics, Peter Thompson from the ACT.
Other Australian entries to-date come from South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia, while internationally expect to see Panayotis TSINGANOS (GRE), Hiroshi ODA (JPN), Bento AMARAL (POR), Simon HARLE (GBR) and Herb MEYER (USA). The largest number of entries come from sailors classified as IFDS 'one' - predominantly quadriplegics who have not previously had the opportunity of competing to compete in an ISAF/IFDS sanctioned World Championship.
Watch out for Ame BARNBROOK, a 15 year old from Narooma in NSW, who has been sailing Access Dinghies for several years using servo electrics to control the steering and sail settings with her toes. With a big personality, guts and determination, Ame is already the darling of media and sailors alike.
The Worlds will be sailed in the Access Liberty, the latest design from Chris Mitchell's Access Dinghy Sailing Systems in Melbourne. The Access 2.3 and 303 dinghies are sailed in countries around the globe and in conjunction with programs like Sailability; these boats are making sailing more accessible to people of all ages and abilities.
Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron is only 1.5 hours south of Melbourne and racing will be conducted on the waters of Port Phillip. Committee Chairman Chris Wilson, Onshore Coordinator Geoff Watson and a large team of volunteers from the Blairgowrie Y.S. and Sailability Victoria will work dockside and around the Club to support competitors and officials during the event. The International Foundation for Disabled Sailing has been very supportive of the event and Accredited IFDS Classifiers Charlie SIMPSON (CAN), Anne ALLEN (USA) and Stephen WILSON (AUS) will officiate, along with Technical Delegate Phil VARDY (AUS).
Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron, who conduct a regular Sailability program along with their dinghy and keelboat activities, have been very busy developing their facilities to accommodate an increased number of sailors and visitors in wheelchairs and arranging accommodation for competitors and officials.
For this event and all Sail Melbourne news, go to the event website at the address below.