All hands on deck for epic Foyle charity sail

Local people taking part in the Sailability challenge getting ready for the epic adventure.
Local people taking part in the Sailability challenge getting ready for the epic adventure.

Local skippers and crew members taking part in the epic Round Ireland Sailability challenge are busy getting their boats ready for take off.

Next Friday, June 26, three yachts will leave Greencastle with owners and crew heading east to circumnavigate Ireland to raise awareness of sailing for persons with disabilities.

They will be joined by another yacht at Carlingford.

The skippers and their crew members are currently ploughing full steam ahead with their preparations.

Foyle Sailability volunteers decided to take on this adventure to raise awareness of Sailability Ireland, a national organisation aimed at increasing opportunities for people with disabilities to engage in sailing and water-based activities.

The boats will stop at each of the Sailability centres round the island of Ireland, where events will take place to mark their arrival.

First stop will be at Belfast Lough Sailability (BLS) centre at Carrickfergus.

Bob Harper of BLS said: “We are thrilled Foyle Sailability volunteers are taking on this Round Ireland trip in the name of Sailability.

“It will help raise awareness of the benefits of sailing, and in particular for people with disabilities.

“We have been providing sailing to people with disabilities for over 15 years now and have first hand experience of the benefits it can provide.

“It’s wonderfully uplifting and a brilliant escape from the frustrations that disabled people face on land.

“A lot of people think sailing is too expensive and inaccessible and because they’re disabled, it’s logistically impossible. But this is just a myth. We constantly surprise people that they can sail, once in the boat, they are as capable as anyone else.”

To mark the yachts setting sail from Greencastle in Inishowen on Friday, June 26 when there will also be a ‘Day of Fun and Games On and Off the Water’ for people with disabilities.

Backed by support from Loughs Agency under the European Union SDF programme and MalinWaters, organisers said they are looking forward to a great day and giving the adventurous sailors a great send off on their journey, which will take approximately two weeks.

Stops along the route will be at Carrickfergus, Carlingford, Dunlaoghaire, Kinsale, Galway and Killybegs.

Ciaran Murphy, Sailability Ireland, added: “We look forward to welcoming the Foyle Sailability members to each of the centres around the coast and raising awareness of the benefits of sailing for people with disabilities throughout the island of Ireland.”

Supported by MalinWaters which is funded by the EU INTERREG IVA cross border programme under the Sail West project, Joy Harron of Donegal Tourism said: “The emergence of the MalinWaters region has been a major milestone in the development and promotion of marine leisure and tourism and we are delighted to give support to Foyle Sailability and their members who are undertaking this Round Ireland Passage to promote Sailability Ireland.”

Foyle Sailability was launched in May 2013 by a group of people from throughout the north west cross border region, interested in offering disabled people sailing and to eradicate discrimination between persons in the sport of sailing and in the wider community and to comply with the principles of equal opportunity.