Fresh ideas for BLS after ‘open house’

Jonny Gruhn, Jeremy Bryce and Cameron Date join with Iain McAllister (2nd from left) from Belfast Lough Sailability during the open day held in the Marina building. INCT 03-401-RM
Jonny Gruhn, Jeremy Bryce and Cameron Date join with Iain McAllister (2nd from left) from Belfast Lough Sailability during the open day held in the Marina building. INCT 03-401-RM

Opportunities for sailing and other water sports for people with disabilities were highlighted by a local charity at the weekend.

Carrick-based Belfast Lough Sailability hosted an ‘open house’ session as part of Disabled Access Day on Saturday afternoon.

The UK-wide initiative aims to encourage disabled people and their friends and families to visit somewhere new and discover places with great accessibility.

The session took place at the Carrickfergus Marina building close to the Sailability base, with some of their diverse fleet of accessible sailing boats and kayaks on display on dry land.

“The ‘open house’ was low in visitor numbers, but high in enthusiasm and ideas. A new Sailability group in County Down could even have received its formative germination at the event,” said Sailability’s Iain McAllister.

“For members of the local charity, which provides access to the waters of Belfast Lough for people with disabilities and disadvantages, the day was a great chance to regroup after a festive season break.

“Thanks to the kindness of Harbourmaster, Nigel Thompson, they even managed to squeeze indoors one of their specialised and colourful Hansa 303 sailing boats, SUNNY, complete with raised mast and unfurled sails.”

Sailability will also be hosting the Hansa 303 Class Irish Championship for disabled sailors on August 1-2, in partnership with Carrickfergus Sailing Club and Carrick Marina.

The group are waiting to hear if they have been successful in a £1m funding bid which aims to develop a community watersports centre.