Pointe Claire Yacht Club and The Association Quebecoise de Voile Adaptée (AQVA) hosted the 16th annual Quebec Cup sailing regatta in Eastern Canada for persons with disabilities this past weekend. The weather cooperated, with little threat of rain in the forecast the weekend hosted clear skies and sun for the two-day competition. The 22 participants from across the continent, with awide range of disabilities, enjoyed the annual competition.
Thanks to specially designed boats and technology developed in Canada, disabled sailors operate their crafts independently. Remarkably, people with full-body paralysis sailed off the shores of Pointe Claire using a straw system to control the rudder, and their breath to control the sails. A sailor can navigate without the use of hands through a system that works the sheets and rudder. Instead of controlling the helm and sails with hands, the sailor uses his or her breath. By just inhaling or exhaling gently into the straw, the rudder will move left or right and the sails can be let out or drawn in.
Sailors with the use of their hands can use boats adapted with an autohelm, a centrally-located joystick, similar to that of a video game controller. The Sip ‘n’ Puff system allows people with the highest-level disabilities to sail.A small sip or gentle puff of air is all that is required to activate this switch forward or reverse.
Sailors are lifted into their boats and after wheelchairs with the help of a hoist.
Pointe Claire Yacht Club boasts 11 adapted boats some owned by AQVA. An adapted sail boat pricing starts at $25,000.