Sailing for people with physical disabilities got its start in Canada in 1989, when Sam Sullivan used a British-made Sunbird dinghy to launch the first few sails at the Jericho Sailing Centre on English Bay.
The original Sunbird had been presented to Rick Hansen by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher during Expo '86 in Vancouver to mark the end of his ‘Man in Motion’ world tour.
During that first summer, sailors with tetraplegia, paraplegia and other significant physical disabilities logged a total of 22 sails.
Today, DSA operates eight specially-designed Martin 16 sailboats and provides an average of 1,000+ sails each summer. The program is so popular that the team is working with the Vancouver Park Board and the City of Vancouver to rebuild the aging pier and include a floating dock so that DSA can increase its sailings by an additional 50% each year.
The Martin 16 sailboat is designed specifically to be accessible for all levels of ability, with use of either a joystick controls or sip and puff technology. Participants range from novices to experienced racers who advance to join the Race Club, representing DSA BC in local regattas and national competitions.
Our vision is to empower people with physical disabilities to re-imagine what is possible. Sailing provides an opportunity to do just that. Whether you are coming out for a relaxing sail to enjoy the sunshine and the beautiful views of the city from English Bay, or you’re training with our crew as part of the Race Club, we welcome you to join our DSA sailing community. Book your sailing now
Learn more about what we have planned in our strategic plan.