New accessible pontoon to assist disabled sailors play full part in ocean race festivitiesJune 22, 2012 - 7:00am
A new accessible sailing harbour pontoon and ramp, which will allow disabled sailors direct access to boats, has been assembled at the Docks in the centre of the city in conjunction with the Volvo Ocean Race taking place later this month.
A rehearsal took place on the new harbour Sunday last, where a number of children practised getting in and out of the boats, with the process proving to be a great success. Dave Vinnell, Water Manager for the Volvo Ocean Race described the new pontoon as a valuable asset to the city.
“The pontoon is easy to use and is a much better means of getting the disabled sailors afloat. The wheelchair access to the very end of the pontoon means we can get a large amount of people out,” said Vinnell.
Previous to the pontoon being put in place at the dockland, all of the sailing for disabled people was held at Galway Bay Sailing Club in Oranmore, and with only a small slipway it proved more difficult, said Vinnell.
“It was a lot more difficult to get them in and out of the boats, plus we were restricted in numbers and time,” he said.
Liz Gantly of the Galway Speeders Club, which promotes sport for young people with disabilities, said all association with the group were delighted at the new pontoon, saying it will allow disabled people from across the country to have a chance to sail during the final stage of the race in Galway.
“The rehearsal last week went really well. We are hoping to have over 100 disabled people from all over the country trying out sailing during the Volvo Ocean Race.”
As a legacy of the sporting event and for the good of sailing and boating in Galway City, the pontoon will remain in place when the Volvo Ocean Race has moved out of the city.