First female commodore of Princess Royal Sailing Club Susette Evans is a sailability success — she shares program’s importance

Headshot of Shannon Smith
Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser
PRSC's Mark Paynter and Geoffrey Oliver with Sailability's Rob Cridge and PRSC's Commodore Susette Evans.
Camera IconPRSC's Mark Paynter and Geoffrey Oliver with Sailability's Rob Cridge and PRSC's Commodore Susette Evans. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser, Laurie Benson

Susette Evans never thought she would be a sailor, let alone the first female commodore of Albany’s Princess Royal Sailing Club.

The club’s Sailability Albany program has been giving participants freedom on the water for 12 years — and she is living proof of how it empowers people.

With one leg, and as a female aged over 70, she said her position as commodore showed how accepting and equitable the PRSC was.

“For a physically disabled person like myself with one limb and an older age, exercise is quite challenge and you can’t do a lot of things,” she said.

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“It is a fun whole-body exercise that I say benefits my mind, body and spirit.

“There is that wonderful sense of being out in the fresh air and enjoying yourself.

“My body has gotten stronger, and my eyes are so much better because I have to watch everything and my coordination is so much better.

“Everyone is equal out there on the water, it doesn’t matter who you are.”

This month, the future of the Albany Sailability program got even brighter when it became a registered National Disability Insurance Scheme provider.

The program helps people with a disability participate in recreation and sport through sailing.

Each week, they have about 20 participants using the program at one time.

“I see the joy on the faces of people when they are out there sailing, even someone who is barely able to tell you how much they are enjoying the process,” Ms Evans said.

Sailability Albany co-ordinator Mark Paynter said the NDIS status was great news for the sailors and their families.

“The acceptance of our registration application is recognition of the value that sailing can make to a person’s wellbeing and recognition of the quality of the program delivered by our volunteers here in Albany,” he said.

“For many participants, sailing provides an opportunity to connect more widely with the local community.

“For new participants, our NDIS registration will provide them with the confidence that our service for people with disability has been assessed independently and meets the required standards.”

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