Boating has become more accessible on the Bay, after the Richmond Yacht Club installed an Aqua Creek EZ Lift hoist.
On Saturday, the hoist that assists people with limited mobility into small boats or kayaks was deemed officially open for business, RYC member Shana Bagley said in a statement. During a ribbon-cutting ceremony just before the RYC’s Sail a Small Boat Day festivities, a crowd cheered the new equipment.
The best part of the ceremony, said Bagley, was watching Ben, a charismatic blind sailor, sail out with two friends in a RS Venture Connect, an adaptive boat on loan from California Inclusive Sailing.
RYC became the third Bay Area yacht club to offer the person hoist. The South Beach Yacht Club/BAADS and Santa Cruz Yacht Club also offer the technology.
“Most people don’t know how inaccessible our world is until you experience your own limitations with mobility, or someone tells you about it,” Bagley said.
Inspiration for the RYC hoist came from Fernanda Castelo, an accomplished adaptive/para sailor who found her options on the Bay limited given the lack of hoists.
RYC’s hoist, which is affordable, portable and manual, is “part of a bigger vision to increase accessibility to the water and improve inclusivity in the sailing community,” Bagley said in her statement.
“Treasure Island, Santa Cruz, San Diego and Long Island already have adaptive sailing programs,” she said. “Coming soon are an increase in adaptive boats…, adaptive sailing instructor courses (Richmond Yacht Club, tentatively for June 2019) and adaptive sailing camps.”
US Sailing offers a comprehensive list of adaptive sailing programs nationwide here.