After one month of discussion on the IFDS Disabled Sailing Forum, the support given by the world of disabled sailing and the threads of discussion have been progressive for the sport, with the main focus to date being on equity and inclusion for severely
With a significant number of postings, IFDS has now summarised all the discussions through until 21 October into one summary paper, covering:
· Definition of Severely Disabled - which sailors are severely disabled?
· Obstacles - what is stopping severely disabled sailors (SDS) from sailing?
· Cost - is this making disabled sailing only for the rich (or those in rich countries)?
· Status Quo - do we stay with just the events we have now?
· Levelling up and down - can we make sailing both fair and attractive?
· Adaptations - how can they make sailing more equitable?
· Solo Experience v. Team Sport - is one better than another or do we want both?
· Introducing a new event - what format do we want?
· Boats - what are the best boats for SDS?
· Safety - what are the additional issues for SDS?
· Classification - can the system be made more fair?
· Rules - what changes would make sailing more equitable?
· Integration - should SDS sail with less disabled?
· Choice - how important is choice of event format to an SDS?
· Dividing the 2.4 mR Fleet - will this make it more fair?
to read the complete Summary Paper, and there follows a few extracts on the above topics from contributors to the Forum:
Definition of Severely Disabled - which sailors are severely disabled?
"A disabled sailor is someone who requires assistance from an electrical/mechanical device and/or assistance from another crewmember in order to perform their function including transferring from side to side.
For example, a sailor using Sip & Puff, a quad needing the intervention of a crewmember to operate a transfer bench . . ."
Obstacles - what is stopping SDS from sailing?
"What are the main obstacles for SDSs to participate in . . . competition with current classes?"
"Is it a feeling of an unfair playing field?
A lack of sailing programmes to get started locally?
A limited number of boats to charter or borrow?
Limited accessible facilities?
Cost of competition?
Cost - is this making disabled sailing only for the rich (or those in rich countries)?
"The severely disabled are usually more financially constrained than the less severely disabled. How important is it for IFDS to consider cost in seeking a way forward for severely disabled sailors?"
Status Quo - do we stay with just the events we have now?
"It is my strong belief that with the Sonar we cater, because of the FCS, for inclusion of SDS. However, SDSs are almost always restricted to helming the boat AND to sail in a team. The 2.4mR in my view has very good options but is too wet and not good to handle for SDS in rougher conditions."
Levelling up and down - can we make sailing both fair and attractive?
"The first path would have everyone sailing in the one fleet, but would mean less technical boats with less adjustments as every adjustment would need to be potentially power assisted which on a 2.4 for example would require a lot of winches, at great expense and adding considerable weight. This limiting of adjustments would be levelling down the class and unacceptable to many."
Solo Experience v. Team Sport - is one better than another or do we want both?
"You choose to sail solo. That's great. I CHOOSE to sail with others; that should be just as acceptable as solo. I'm no lesser or better than someone who sails solo, only different."
"I have been a ventilated quad for 19 years, since I was 4 years old. I need nurses with me 24-7 to take care of all my needs, even be with me while I sleep...... BUT I CAN SAIL BY MYSELF. I have travelled to different places in Australia and even to Florida, USA to compete in regattas. I love sailing by myself, making my own decisions and sometimes winning because of my own choices. I don't want to be part of a team, because sailing by myself gives me freedom."
A new topic has now been started called "Severely Disabled Sailing - Postings after 22nd Oct" and IFDS invites all interested parties to communicate via this single thread, so that all discussion can be contained.
IFDS will provide further summaries as the debate develops.
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