Roger and Emma, representing QM Sailability in a Hansa 303, finished 7th out of over 90 boats in the 3 starts at Queen Mary Sailing Club and in the World Wide results so far just over 1000th out of over 6000 so far in.
Penny's (Emma's Mother) and Roger's stories
Emma is 12 years old and developed spastic quadriplegia, a form of cerebral palsy as a result of a difficult and premature birth. She is unable to sit, stand or walk without her wheelchair but has a great sense of adventure and is up for anything. To get around she uses a motorised wheelchair - with which she is fairly lethal. The idea of trying sailing came in part from a couple of happy outings on “Grandpa’s boat”, a Westerly Centaur on the Hamble, and from the fun Emma has doing sit-skiing. We were looking for something that would give her a similar sense of fun, freedom and being outdoors, without having to get to the Alps. A chat with Geoff Holt, award winning disabled sailor, at the Southampton Boat show took us to Queen Mary Sailability, where Emma has been learning to sail a Hansa 303 with the fantastic team of volunteer instructors. She’s been going along whenever school holidays permit for the last 2 seasons and this year the club has fitted a special supportive seat, which seems to be making all the difference as she can now sit up and manage the joy stick unsupported. This year was Emma’s first Bart’s Bash.
(note: The seat was provided for Emma by Mike Wood of the'Disabled Sailors Association)
I am amazed at our standing so far. There are more results to come in of course so worldwide our position can and probably will go down.
For me never having sailed with Emma before I did not know what to expect. As crew and more experienced sailor I looked to keep us safe and provide guidance where I could. I normally crew a Tasar dinghy for my wife Liz, who is skipper, so crewing Emma was no different, we were a team. I must admit we did not get off to a great start as, with Emma on the joystick tiller, on leaving the pontoon we went through the wind and gybed round and collided with a rescue boat that was tied up there.
We made made it out to the start line before the start of the Rookie race. There was a bit of excitement when a Topper on collision course with us had to be shouted at as he was not looking where he was going. Then it was a question of setting the stopwatch and sailing around so we hit the start line near the committee boat going fast just after the gun. Approaching the windward buoy at the end of the first beat we got it wrong as we were not going to make the mark. We could not tack out as there we boats outside us so pulled the joystick towards me so we gybed round and were safely able to go round the mark as these faster boats had cleared by then. On the beats I helped Emma aim for the wing mark with a bit of fine tuning of our course. Then it was round the leeward mark an onto the second beat. Only the wind had changed and what had been a beat was now a reach up through the start line and up to the windward mark again.
Somewhere up here Freddie in the safety boat took some pictures of us with a GoPro camera. Emma waived enthusiastically with both hands and I had to make a grab for the joystick as I could see us going off course. The wind on the reaches fluctuated quite a bit and by the time we rounded the leeward mark the wind had changed back and we were beating up through the line and as boats we now spread out we came into the windward mark on Port without incident. By this time the blue flag had been hoisted and boats were finishing. So we did the final beats in what felt like a falling wind. Then it was round the leeward mark a beat to the line finishing at the committee boat end.
...well done Emma and Roger!