The Paralympic Games, first held in 1960, allow world-class disabled athletes to compete against each other on a level playing field. They are run ‘in parallel’ with the Olympics Games and are held two weeks after the Olympics in the same host city. Sailing was first demonstrated at the Atlanta Paralympics in 1996 and then became a full medal event at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games. Two classes of sailing boat compete: the Sonar and the 2.4 metre. Both classes have keels to aid stability.
This boat is the 2.4 metre class single-handed boat. It was raced at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games by British Competitor Mike Browne, who achieved seventh place in a seventeen-strong field. This boat is unusual in that the helmsman sits in the middle of the boat, facing forwards at all times. With all controls in easy reach this means that strength and mobility play little part in sailing this boat competitively.
More sailing clubs than ever before offer facilities for disabled sailors, whatever their level of experience. ‘Sailability’ is the leading charity for disabled sailing in the UK. Their role is to encourage and support people with disabilities to take up the sport of sailing, and other boating activities. Many thousands of disabled people are now being introduced to sailing each year through this scheme in this country.