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Sailability New Zealand - sailing for the disabled

Sailability New Zealand a volunteer-based organisation which, through the activity of sailing, enriches the lives of people with any type of disability. Sailability is a organisation that provides opportunities for people with disabilities to try sailing.

Sailability New Zealand’s aim is to provide people with disabilities the opportunity to sail in safety and to experience adventure and freedom many regions of NZ have a local Sailability group. Sailing helps build mobility, self-confidence enjoyment as well as pride through achievement.

In New Zealand sailing activities cover a broad spectrum, ranging from recreation, therapeutic and competitive activities, from grass-root, entry level through to elite World Championships and Paralympic training. If you want to give it a go we have on this site a regional list of sailability providers


I have a disability- How can I go sailing?

Sailing is a sport that can be made possible for anybody. For people with a physical disability, boats can be modified to meet the individual needs of the sailor, whether that be with an electronic servo system (similar to using a power wheelchair) or just the standard accessible dinghies with centreline seats and joystick steering. If you can’t get yourself into the boat, there are lifting systems that can help you in and out. Visually Impaired and blind sailors can use buoys with sound signals to let sailors know their location on the water.

Are there opportunities to race and participate in Regattas?

Yes. Once you have completed learn to sail and have the basic skills of steering and controlling the sails, you can start to enter regattas. There are a handful of events in NZ each year, and many more opportunities overseas as you progress.

Can the boats flip?

The ‘Hansa’ dinghies used in most NZ Sailability learn to sail courses are designed so that they cannot flip. This is done by placing lead in the centreboard or keel, so that no matter how hard the wind blows, the boat can’t tip over.

What other safety measures are in place?

When sailing, participants must wear a suitable life jacket/PFD and should be supervised by a safety power boat on the water too. While the choice of what style life jacket/PFD is often dependant on the type of sailing and an individual’s preference, more care must be taken with the choice for persons with a disability. The attached RYA article highlights some important considerations. It is strongly recommended that individuals test their own life jackets to check their suitability, and that manufacturer's recommendations are followed, particularly in regard to servicing inflatable life jackets. Read more about inflatable life jacket servicing. Each accessible sailing programme will organize to have a Yachting New Zealand qualified instructor or coach, and a first aid officer on site. Weather conditions are always closely observed, if it is too windy sailing will be cancelled.



Sailability New Zealand regions

What to bring

You must bring; a hat, a drink bottle, sunscreen, suitable warm clothing and a change of clothes, click below for more

Have a Go

Advise us of any agility or communication impairments. A support person can come with you.

Sailability New Zealand