Disabled have a right to share sailing opportunities too

Pictured at Foyle Port Marina for the launch of Foyle Sailability 2016 are, from left: Cathal MacElhatton, Chairman, Foyle Sailability; Kevin O'Donnell Sr, Kevin O'Donnell Jr, Foyle Sailability participant; Bill McCann, Harbour Master, Foyle Port; Donna Buchanan, HR Manager, Foyle Port.  Photo: North West Newspix
Pictured at Foyle Port Marina for the launch of Foyle Sailability 2016 are, from left: Cathal MacElhatton, Chairman, Foyle Sailability; Kevin O'Donnell Sr, Kevin O'Donnell Jr, Foyle Sailability participant; Bill McCann, Harbour Master, Foyle Port; Donna Buchanan, HR Manager, Foyle Port. Photo: North West Newspix

Lough Foyle offers huge opportunities for sailing and water-based activities and people with disabilities have a right to share in these opportunities too.

So said Cathal MacElhatton, of Foyle Sailability, at the launch of the 2016 Events Programme at Foyle Port Marina at the weekend.

“Our events for 2016 give you the chance to try things out on the water just for fun, or to see if you want to take up sailing or other ‘on the water’ activities on a longer term basis,” said Mr MacElhatton.

“We are also delighted to announce that Foyle Port have come on board as our sponsors and to thank them in particular for their generous donation of an accessible Hansa 303 boat.

To find out more or to enquire about taking part in FS events email foylesailability@gmail.com or telephone 02871 266593 or 04871 266593 for those living in Donegal.

“Foyle Port are proud to support Foyle Sailability in ensuring Lough Foyle is an attractive destination for disabled people with an interest in exploring marine activities”, said Port chief executive Brian McGrath.

Meanwhile, Foyle Sailability committee member, Karen Meenan, said the Port, the wider sailing community and Foyle Sailability volunteers had provided expert support for at events in the past two years, adding that their help was invaluable.

“Foyle Sailability is open to people with disabilities from across the North West region in Derry and Donegal,” said Karen.

“Our events are low cost or free and kick off on 14th May this year with Go with the Flow sessions at Foyle Port Marina. We are also running two days of pre-Clipper activities as part of the Foyle Maritime Festival on July 6 and 7 and our very own one-day Regatta on August 12, as part of Greencastle Regatta.”

“In the short-term, we are giving people with disabilities the chance to take to the water themselves, with expert help. In the longer-term, we want to offer the kind of support which enables those of us with disabilities to aspire towards the highest levels of sailing or water sport skills.

“In a Paralympics year, that message is particularly important,” she said.