Access Dinghy Telltales

The "S" is Launched - a new era in accessible sailing

In a ceremony at Darling Harbour on October 12, the new Access 303 Single Seat Dinghy was launched by NSW Minister for Sport & Recreation, The Hon John Watkins MP. Addressing an international audience, Mr. Watkins said, "with Sydney being the host city for the 2000 Paralympic Games, it is an ideal opportunity to show the world the technology that Australia has when it comes to sport for people with a disability."

The Access 303S has all the design features of the other Access models including roller-reefer furling sails, concave hull, servo assist control option. New design innovations of the Access 303S will enable anyone to sail solo in safety. The new features of the "S" include;

The "S"(standing for SINGLE)can also accommodate the Access Dinghy servo assist controls , with the joystick also controlling the self-tacking jib. For those who require a ventilator to breath, a rear hatch can be added, complete with a clear perspex dome cover. Pictured below, "The Pantha" - is equipped to allow 20 years old ventilated quadriplegic, Nava George to sail solo.

The Pantha will be sailed by Nava, who is now a member of Sailability Dobroyd on Sydney Harbour. She hopes to travel to Canberra in February to compete in the Australian Access Dinghy Championships and later go overseas.

After Nava's first sail, Paul Beven, a reporter from channel 9's A Current Affair, asked if the reality of sailing lived up to her dreams, Nava excitedly said, "It was better than my dreams. I had the time of my life."

The look on her face said it all.

5th Australian & 2nd International Access Dinghy Regatta

24th & 25th February 2001

Sailability ACT invites entries from all sailors interested in competing in this fun event. Sailors of all abilities & experience are welcome. The international Regatta is being held in conjunction with the Aspect Australian Access Dinghy Championships at Lake Tuggeranong, Canberra, ACT.

Entry Forms Are now Available


Hi Everyone

A lot has happened since our last newslatter and I'm not going to attempt to summarize the events. Instead, following is a message from the "BOYs" at the Access Dinghy factory in Melbourne who work so diligently to supply everyone with Access Dinghies all over the world.

Jackie Kay

If you would like to share a photo or story of your sailing, please post so we pin it up on our noticeboard in the Factory.

Lou: Since starting with Access I have the most international people in my life. I would like to thank all the volunteers, without whom the whole philosophy of integrated sailing would not be possible.

Joe B and Dan: Fantastic. Love working with you all. To everyone who is involved, thanks for your contributions. Looking forward to bigger more advanced projects in the further.

Joe D' A: I have found nothing more rewarding the being able to contribute to the satisfaction & happiness which I have seen from so many disadvantaged and able bodied people of all ages and hope others have the opportunity to share the same joy.

Tom: My involvement with the Ventilator Project was extremely satisfying - can't wait to see what's next.

The Paralympics comes to Sydney with a wave to interest in accessible sailing.

In October the Paralympics bought many overseas visitors to Australia with a special interest in sailing for people with disabilities.

As part of the Paralympic Science Congress, the Homerus Project from Italy provided an impressive demonstration of blind sailing. With the use of acoustic devices of Sailability NSW's two 24ft Salvos and on marker buoys, two teams of blind sailors held match races on Sydney Harbour. It was Friday the 13th, but apart from the wet weather, this was not an unlucky day, and the demo went off without a hitch with the spectators from many countries being entertained and enthralled at the blind sailors' skill. We would sincerely like to thanks Sydneyside Cruises for donating the ferry and Rotary International which took the spectators to watch the Homerus sailing as well as Waterways who set the course and provided on-water support.

The following Sunday, Alessandro Gaoso and his team of blind sailors from Homerus were welcomed to Sailability Dobroyd at Drummoyne. The five blind sailors spent an exhilarating hour experiencing Access Dinghy sailing on Sydney Harbour. Alessandro commented, "The five blinds have not experienced being in such small boats before. This is very good." Alessandro asked if a small fleet of Access Dinghies would be available in Italy in May 2001 to participate in the Blind Sailing Match Racing. Later in the afternoon, with true Italian generosity, Alessandro presented Homerus t-shirts, caps and bottles of wine to members of Dobroyd.

Also that afternoon, Irene Wentink from The Netherlands was also welcomed to Sailability Dobroyd. Irene was introduced to the Access 303 wide seat in an exciting sail with Australian Access Dinghy Champion, Wayne Teagle. The world is getting smaller and our international sailing family grows.

Access Dinghies receives a Special Commendation.

At the recent 4th Annual Sport and Recreation Awards held in Melbourne, Access Dinghies was awarded a Special Commendation for Outstanding Achievement for "development of a boat designed to allow non-sailors to enjoy the sport safely". Access Dinghies was also a finalist in the Export and Research & Development Section.

Yes, I can sail ! by Nava George, Australia

20 years old Nava has been a ventilated quadriplegic since an accident when just 4 years old. Here is the second of three articles written by Nava in her quest to discover freedom on the water.

The day finally arrived! After months of preparation i.e seating fittings, boat being built and sailing lessons with Graham, it was well and truly time for me to put my skills to the test.

It didn't actually hit me that I was going sailing until I was at the waters edge getting my seat sorted out and into the boat. I was so excited, although at the same time a little scared. Before being pushed out from pontoon I suddenly thought "What if I can't do this". I was then faced with the water and thought "it's so late now".

Sailing for the first time was unbelievable! It was amazing, I absolutely loved it! I just love the feeling of the wind through my hair and splashes of water on my face. The freedom of gliding across the water felt unreal and without thinking about it, I had conquered all my fears and doubts. When off the water I always look forward to getting back on. Sailing definitely is a dream come true. I never imagined that I would able to achieve any involvement in this sort of sport.

In the future I hope to travel overseas to sail and maybe eventually compete in the Paralympics. Who knows what the future holds for me and sailing but I knows one thing is for sure, I think it's fantastic and will be doing it for a long time!!!

Nava's Mum: I felt very emotional seeing Nava sail by herself, it's something I never thought possible. I am amazed by the courage she has. I would like to thank everyone involved in making it possible for Nava to sail. Most of all I would like to thank Lord for giving everyone the knowledge to make this wonderful experience take place.

Robyn:I have known Nava four and half years. During this time I have become very close with Nava, not only as her carer but as her friend. I was with Nava when sailing first became a topic, assisted with the preparation and when the day arrived for Nava's maiden sail. I was there to support and cheer her on. I was one of the safety crew in the support dinghy, to observe Nava closely in the event that assistance may be required (no help required so far).

Watching Nava having so much fun really hit me and I found it hard to hold back the tears. I was a little nervous as I'm protective of Nava, but her skills and control put me at ease. It certainly has been worth the effort and much,much more!

Pam: I was completely overwhelmed watching Nava sail. I thought she was absolutely spectacular.

Sailing seat

Dr. Bill Fisher, Bio Medical Engineer at Royal North Short Hospital worked closely with Chris Mitchell to ensure that Nava would gain the optimum enjoyment from her sailing experiences. A special "Sailing seat" with chin control was developed for Nava. Bill's issues of concern were:

Safety Issues

To facilitate a ventilator dependent sailor, various additional precautions are necessary to enable fool-proof safety for the sailor.

  1. Strobe lighting mounted on the rear of the "ventilator dome" to indicate correct function of ventilator.
  2. "Panic Button" for the sailor to activate alarms if in need of assistance.
  3. A bank of additional batteries to provide backup power supply for ventilator.
  4. A dedicated safety boat manned by a licensed driver, an experienced dinghy hand and a suitably medically trained career

A safety overkill? We don't think so. After all, It's better to be safe than sorry…


500th Access Dinghy unveiled

by Colin Johnson, Sailing for Everyone, Australia

The 500th Access Dinghy was unveiled at the official launch of Sailing for Everyone Docklands. The boat was unveiled by Vinnie Lawers who is the first paraplegic to sail solo, unassisted, non-stop around world. Vinnie is particularly interested in helping all disadvantaged kids and his organization, Parasail, together with Sailing for Everyone, will hold various events to include people from all walks of life enjoy the freedom of sailing.

On 6th of September, 2000 Sailing for Everone Docklands was officilaly Launched at a ceremony attended by the Victorian Minister for Major Projects and Tourism. The Hon. Mr. John Pandazopoulos welcomed the club to Docklands as a new community dimension and the beginning to developing Docklands as a community recreation and leisure area along with opening up sailing to all.

Prior to the ceremony, Vinnie and Mr. Pandazoulos went for a sail in an Access 303 and instead of just sailing out and back for the press cameras, kept sailing. When they returned they were both wearing broad smiles and said "that was fun!", despite the Minister having a slightly wet elbow of his suit. Mr.Pandazopoulos was so impressed with the Access Dinghy he subsequently arranged a personal tour of the factory where they are produced in outer Melbourne.

A BBQ lunch was provided for an expected 50 people but All the food and most of the drinks were consumed when over 100 turned up despite the day being cold, overcast with impending showers.

Melbourne Docklands Authority has given the club approval to sail in the precinct that eventually will be surrounded by high rise apartment towers, technology parks and recreational areas. They have also provided free access to a shed for the club to use as a base, allowed a hoist base to be bolted onto their pontoon and financially sponsored the opening ceremony.

USA Access Dinghy championships

Shake-A-Leg Miami, Florida USA. 8-12 November 2000

Margie Sherman, the Coordinator of the USA & International Access Dinghy Regatta writes the following report of the fun-filled weekend.

The regatta was the best! There was such a wonderful mixture of participants; from the old to the young, from the disabled to the able bodied, from near and afar. And they all came together in the spirit of good will and competition to race in Shake-A-Leg Miami's first North American international Access Dinghy regatta. We are so proud to add these wonderful colorful sailboats to our existing fleet, and what better way to co it than to start off with such an exuberant and fun filled event. Everybody who participated, and all the observers who went out on the spectator their faces. That's what the Access Dinghies do!

Shake-A-Leg Miami looks forward to making this an annual event and hope our future Access Dinghy Regattas will be as successful as this one.

And last, but by no means least, our thanks to Chris Mitchell and Jackie Kay for all their help, and appreciation to all the wonderful sailors from Australia, Japan, and Canada who truly made this an international event.


USA Open to North American sailors only

Division 1

  1. Ashley Sulivan
  2. Allan Fiske
  3. Harry Horgan

3. Marc Landy


Division 2

  1. Herb Meyer
  2. Karen Novak
  3. Benin Jenkins

Division 2-doubles

  1. Hannah Benitez and Ed Benitez
  2. Calah Williams and Karen Novak
  3. Eric Torress and Len Snowden


  1. Chris Swain
  2. Laytoya Smith
  3. Terrance Barley

Division 3-double

  1. Michelle Ramirez and Evelyn Ochoa
  2. Sydney DeZinno and Humberto Ramirez
  3. Taylor Bates and Zachary Laime

Servo Assist

  1. Bryant Asmatha
  2. Anthony Acosta

International Results - For all competitors.

Championship score + division number

  1. Marianne Ireland Aus
  2. Dale williams Australia
  3. Herb Meyer USA
  4. Ashley Sullivan USA
  5. Chris Swain USA
  6. Allan Fiske USA
  7. Harry Horgan USA
  8. Marc Landry Canada
  9. S. DeZinna & H Rameriz USA
  10. Calah Williams & crew USA
  11. Karen Novak USA



An excert from Alder Allensworth's recent communication to sailors & friends in the USA on the spirit of Access Dinghies

Well, things worked out for me to go to Shake-A-Leg, Miami to participate in the international Access Dinghy Regatta. I was scheduled to race in the experienced fleet. I went out there in that little boat, with a serious racers' attitude. Everyone was expecting me to do well. Well, I couldn't make it go. I became frustrated.

The more frustrated I got, the more intense I got, and it was not pretty.

I came back in from my race and asked the designer, Chris Mitchell, how to make it go. He said you must be childlike when you sail the boat. It won't behave like a performance boat and that's where most experienced racers get stuck. He said, "feel it, let go. And have fun."

One of organizers of the race came up to me and said that they really needed someone to sail with a 10-year-old girl who is blind and would I crew for her. I said, "Sure, if she doesn't mind being last." The organizer grinned and said; "she'll never know it unless you tell her." So off we went. It was one minute before the start and I could feel the race intensity starting to take over my body. She asked me for a hug. My first thought was, "the race is starting we don't have time for that nonsense," though common sense prevailed and I said "Sure!! A good luck hug for the race." We had great start.

On the way up to the weather mark, she asked me to lean the boat to weather, which is usually the wrong thing to do, but she wanted to trail her hand in the water. She couldn't reach the water with us heeled in the correct position. It was important to her to experience by touch, what she couldn't by sight. We got a second and third place for the day and that put us in first over all. The message to me is very clear I know what tack I need to be on.

A couple of months ago, I was asked to be on the board of an organization called S.H.A.R.E…inc. that stands for the Society of Handicapped Achievement Rehabilitation and Empowerment. A subcommittee is dedicated to getting people of all ages and abilities in the community on the water. There are two sailing sites, one in Southwest Florida, and the other in the Greater Tampa Bay Area. We now have the means to get people on the water all in a very short three months. It is amazing things just keep falling into place almost effortlessly. It is very hard sometimes to "let go and trust". The reality is, that that is the way I need to live my life.

2nd UK Access Dinghy C'ships

Sailability Rutland at Rutland Water

An eager band of sailors keen to show off their sailing skills gathered on the 19th and 20th August for the 2nd UK Access Dinghy National Championships held at Rutland Sailing Club. Some of the competitors had only been sailing for one year, yet won major prizes. One such sailor Simon Harie, won two awards which are particularly meaningful for anyone who knows him. Simon has Cerebral Palsy, on land he totally depends on other people, but in a boat away from the jetty, he says: "I'm my own man, I have control of what I want to do, where I want to go".

Twenty-one disabled sailors competed. The physical skills of the sailors were tested to the full, with a near force 5 wind on the Saturday, whilst in the altactical abilities. John Coombers did try to invent a new point of sail, the boom perpendicular to the mast, however this didn't create an advantage so he won't be trying it again. Advice: always check your sheet has a stopper knot.

Ron Sawford of the Access Dinghy Association, was impressed with the tremendous effort the sailors had put into their sailing "Access sailing is all about equality. About families and friends sailing together regardless of age, ability or disability. With Access Dinghies people can look forward and know that they will still be able to sail in their:

303 wide seaters

  1. Nadim and Virginie
  2. Bry Chettle and Bill Mitchell
  3. Robert Brown and Ron Sawford

Access 2.3

  1. Eddie Pickering for second year
  2. Mike Shwan
  3. Mark Ellis

2000 ADF International Traveler's Award

In keeping with Access Dinghy Foundation's philosophy of "sailing for everyone", ADF was pleased to present this award for the second year. The award comprises:

Herb Meyer of BAADS in San Francisco, California was awarded the Award for this year at the recent USA Access Dinghy Regatta. We look forward to welcoming Herband fiance, Carolynn to Australia in February