Yachting Malta has continued its work towards bringing inclusivity and empowerment for individuals with disabilities as could be seen in several initiatives that the body engaged with in recent months. These were directed to encourage the take up of sailing by persons with a disability.
Initiatives around Yachting Malta’s sailing for all kick-started in October 2021, when Yachting Malta supported the entry of Gianluca Aquilina, a parasailor for the Hansa World Championships in Palermo, Italy.
This initial spark, a dream of former Yachting Malta chairman John Huber, was further ignited in May 2022 when Yachting Malta purchased the first three Hansa 303 boats.
These boats, which eventually became four, are a World Sailing recognised Class and all local sailing clubs are in possession of one. The purchase of these boats was also possible due to the contribution of Frank Salt Real Estate, Agora Foundation, and Transport Malta.
Yachting Malta’s efforts towards inclusivity in the sport involve the provision of training programmes to cater to such individuals.
Joseph Muscat, a Yachting Malta team member, and keen yachtsman, has been giving particular focus to this area by offering several training hours to sailing schools catering for the Hansa 303 class.
Recently, he was present for the Campionato Italiano Classe Olimpiche and Parasailing (CICO 2023) which was held at Marina Dorica in Ancona Italy.
The championships hosted over 300 athletes, of which 46 were Para athletes who raced in Hansa 303 and 2.4mR boats.
Whilst these classes were not included in the forthcoming Paralympic Games in Paris 2024, special attention is still being given to athletes competing in these classes.
In fact, 10 races were held for both single and double-handed Hansa Classes, as well as the 2.4mR.
Throughout his visit, he was able to gain first-hand experience in the logistics required for the organisation of such events.
“Our presence there was important in that we not only gained technical and organisational experience but also had to possibility to network with our counterparts from the Federazione Italiana Vela and Hansa Class delegates which will enable us to promote Malta as a centre of sailing for persons with a disability,” said Muscat.
During the visit to Ancona, discussions took place with Beppe Devoti, FIV Technical Director for the National Paralympic Team, Carmelo Forestieri – President of the Hansa Class of Italy, last year’s Hansa 303 Gold medallist and this year’s silver medallist, Marco Gualandris, a participant in several World Paralympic Championships and CICO 2023 gold medallist.
Yachting Malta will continue to work closely with local clubs and its International counterparts in a bid to have exchange programmes between the two countries which will contribute towards the development of sailing for persons with a disability in Malta.
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