Person Hoist Launched in Richmond
On Saturday, February 23, just before the Richmond Yacht Club’s Sail a Small Boat Day activities, something amazing happened. After the efforts of many people, the third person hoist in the Bay Area was officially open for business. A larger than anticipated crowd cheered in triumph. (The other two person hoists are at South Beach Yacht Club/BAADS in San Francisco and at Santa Cruz Yacht Club.)
This winter, RYC installed an Aqua Creek EZ Lift hoist. It is affordable, portable and manual. The current model works for assisting people with limited mobility into small boats (or kayaks!), but custom modification are possible.
Most people don’t know how inaccessible our world is until they experience their own limitations with mobility or someone tells them about it. The RYC hoist project was inspired by a friend of many and force of nature, Fernanda Castelo. As an accomplished adaptive/para sailor, she raced Hansas and Liberties on the Bay, but was limited to sailing near the hoist at BAADS (Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors). Without additional hoists, she sailed past other clubs and could not sail in and stay.
This one hoist is part of a bigger vision to increase accessibility to the water and improve inclusivity in the sailing community. Treasure Island, Santa Cruz, San Diego and Long Beach already have adaptive sailing programs. Increases in adaptive boats (more RS Venture Connects and Hansa 303s on S.F. Bay), adaptive sailing instructor courses (at RYC, tentatively scheduled for June 2019), and adaptive sailing camps are coming soon.
Even bigger is the “50 (now 49!) hoists in 5 years” in California project, spearheaded by Steve Bender of Newport Beach Rotary. Additionally, he is bringing the Hansa Worlds to Newport Beach in 2020. US Sailing has a comprehensive list of adaptive sailing programs around the nation; see www.ussailing.org/education/adult/adaptive-sailing.
The best part of the person-hoist ribbon-cutting ceremony was watching the RS Venture Connect (a super-cool adaptive boat on loan from California Inclusive Sailing) sail away with Ben, an extremely charismatic blind sailor, and two friends. Let’s put sailing past in the sailing past!
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