The 2012 Accessible Sailing season in Galway Bay Sailing Club had been a great success with some of the sailors joining the regular Thursday night racing but they couldn't have foreseen the new levels their programme would reach in 2013.
Working closely with Galway Speeders, a club who promote sport for young people with a physical disability, GBSC now have nine regular sailors taking part in their Accessible Sailing Programme. A number of the sailors are now also full members of GBSC.
Things began hotting up late last year when the club heard of a Martin 16 on sale in the UK which they thought would go brilliantly alongside our existing Martin 16. Funding was provided by Galway Speeders and with a lot of emails, planning and phone calls, spearheaded by Declan McKinney and ISA Regional Development Officer Ciaran Murphy,
the boat arrived in GBSC early this year and thus commenced a major project to get her sea worthy. Declan and Ciaran travelled to the Isle of Wight to collect the boat and around the same time Ciaran also lent two Hansa 303 (formally Access 303) to GBSC. So now for 2013 the club had grown from one Hansa 303, one Martin 16 and one Challenger to three Hansa and two Martin 16 and their one Challenger. That proved to be the turning point for the club and their first evening on the water in mid May proved to be a hugely fun evening as can be seen here
Summer crept up quickly and before long the Galway Sea Festival weekend had arrived. That coincided with the launch of the new Martin 16 which by now was ready to go. Its journey from the Isle of Wight to the waters of Galway Bay was documented here
. Running their sailing that weekend out of Galway docks meant two sailors and two crew sailing the boats over to the docks from GBSC. During the weekend nine sailors got out on the water before sailing the boats back to GBSC. Again all of the excitement was captured on video here
Progression for the young sailors and integration with the main body of youth sailors is always a top priority for GBSC and following on from a successful pilot with one sailor last year, this year they achieved their goal of having two sailors from the Accessible Sailing Program complete an ISA certified course along with their able bodied peers. This was made possible by some amazing work by the young members of GBSC.
This really propelled the club nicely into the ISA Access National Championships in Dun Laoghaire. Several sailors and volunteers travelled up from Galway and weren't disappointed when Mark Henderson claimed 3rd overall, very narrowly missing out on 2nd and bagging a race win in the process.
All the while their regular Thursday sailing was running with great success. The club was managing to get four or five sailors out each evening, up from two in 2012. As a way of rounding off a hugely successful year GBSC decided to run an autumn racing series. This was made possible by the generous loan of two more Hansa from Jacqui Browne in Tralee Bay Sailing Club and so far they have completed two races of an eight race series that ends on October 20th.
It’s been a great year for accessible sailing in Galway and the club isn't quite finished yet! In 2014 they plan to grow their fleet so they can accommodate even more sailors. Also high on their list is progressing the sailors they have.