Bray Sailing Club’s “Inclusion in Sport” programme for the 2019 summer season concluded last week with their final “Lakers at Sea” session. A large part of the club’s inclusion programme revolves around their partnership with local club Lakers (a sports club for children and adults with intellectual disabilities). This partnership, which was forged two years ago, has grown from strength to strength since formation.
After two successful seasons of growing their Inclusion programme, which saw BSC scoop awards from Irish Sailing and becoming a finalist in the Sports Club Category at the Cara National Inclusion Awards last year, the club was keen to hit the ground running this year. In preparation for the season ahead, a number of BSC’s volunteer instructor team completed pre-season training courses – these included Cara’s Autism in Sport training and also Epilepsy training. In house training courses on helping novice sailors with disabilities were also arranged for this year’s new instructors.
This summer, twelve Lakers members enjoyed regular fortnightly sailing activities as part of the “Lakers at Sea” programme. This allowed the new sailors to build on and progress their sailing skills while also trying out various types of boats as well as building their water confidence and finding their sea legs. In addition to the regular “Lakers at Sea” schedule, a “Try Sailing” course was also run, which saw six brand new Lakers members experiencing the thrill of sailing for the first time.
Ideal weather conditions with sunshine and light breezes made for ideal conditions for the final Lakers At Sea sessions. The season closed with a BBQ in the BSC clubhouse for friends and family where the Lakers members were presented with certificates to mark their progress this year.
While the Lakers Partnership with BSC may be the most obvious aspect of the club’s Inclusion in Sport programme, it is only one part of it. BSC regularly opens its doors to participants of varying ability levels as part of their Junior Training programme, which saw close to 160 juniors on the water this summer. The club also welcomes adult members with disabilities. One member, who was born without arms, recently competed in the national championships for her boat class, finishing as the second highest ranked boat in Leinster. For her efforts in challenging conditions, Mary Duffy was presented with the “Spirit of Sailability” trophy at the event.
The club-wide spirit of Inclusion in BSC was further evidenced by twenty club members volunteering their services at the Irish Sailing Watersports Inclusion Games in Kinsale at the end of August. This massive event saw over 250 people with physical, sensory, intellectual and learning disabilities taking part in a wide range of water activities, including sailing, kayaking, canoeing, paddle-boarding, rowing, surfing, water skiing, and powerboating. The volunteer team from Bray played a major part in running the sailing aspect of the games and are already looking forward to volunteering at the games next year.
BSC’s Senior Sailing Instructor, Jack Hannon, commented at the conclusion of the season, “I am extremely proud of not only the club’s volunteer instructor team, but the membership as a whole. All club members, from our youngest to the oldest, have fully embraced our inclusion programme and have helped to create the fully inclusive environment we now have in the club. With the aid of a generous grant from Wicklow Local Sports Partnership we were able to purchase a new floating platform, which has made getting our sailors on the water not only easier, but also safer. I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of this team who showcase how sailing is not only a sport for all, but also a sport for life! We look forward to further exciting plans next year to get even more new participants out on the water and enjoying sailing”.