Sailing champs for all abilities

Cameron Newbold and Des BeeckAlbany Advertiser
The Hansa single-handed boats in action.
Camera IconThe Hansa single-handed boats in action. Credit: Des Beeck

Princess Royal Sailing Club has hosted a successful 2020 WA Hansa Championships, showcasing a pathway for sailors with disabilities to go on and sail at national and international levels.

Three classes competed across Saturday and Sunday, with 15 entries in total and 12 individual sailors hitting the water in small yachts designed to remain stable in all weather conditions.

Winds ranged from 5-25 knots over the 12 races as Royal Perth Yacht Club skipper Robert Crofts showed his class, winning the 303 Hansa championship and the Hansa liberty title.

Robert Crofts in his Hansa Liberty.
Camera IconRobert Crofts in his Hansa Liberty. Credit: Des Beeck

He won all six heats in the 303 Hansa class and four in the liberty division to scoop the awards.

Regatta and Sailability co-ordinator Mark Paynter said the event was very inclusive.

“Every year there is a State, national and international championship,” he said.

“This WA championship demonstrates to local sailors with a disability that there is a pathway to sail nationally and internationally, just like able-bodied sailors.

“We had the very best sailors in WA. The highly experienced ones come down and we also had novice sailors from Albany — some as young as 11 — so it catered for both ends of the spectrum.”

Mr Crofts won the Hansa 303 class from Harriet Paterson and PRSC commodore Susette Evans, and defeated Michael Gull and Tracy Odiam in the Liberty division.

Father and son Wayne and Jacob North won the Hansa doubles from Paterson and James Metcalf, while Evans and Jacob Thomas finished third.

With the Sailability program running smoothly at PRSC, Mr Paynter said the future was bright for Albany sailors with a disability.

“We had two types of Hansa class, 303 which can be sailed as singles or as doubles,” he said.

“Often we had an experienced sailor with a younger, newer sailor which is just fantastic for young sailors with a disability to have some support there and aid their confidence.

“This event has demonstrated the benefits to clubs generally to have inclusive programs that allow them to become more active and engaged across the community.”

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