Sunday 18th October saw the opening of Royal Akarana Yacht Club’s 120th sailing season. Many fantastic announcements were made and RAYC has taken some great steps towards being a fully inclusive yacht club.
One of the highlights on the day was the launching of our new Hansa 2.3 accessible sailing dinghy. This boat was bought to allow the Raye Freedman Marine Academy to get less able young sailors on the water. Lukas Gill was the first to get a go sailing in the Hansa and he absolutely loved it! Lukas has Cerebral Palsy but has never let it get in his way! Until now he has struggled sailing Optimists in the academy, but with the new boat he will find it much easier to keep up with other kids his age when he is on the water.
Life member Marian Harkness and Lukas officially launched the Hansa at 11.45am on 18th October. She was christened “Raye” to acknowledge the Raye Freedman Trust who helped fund the purchase of the boat. Eli Liefting and Lukas then took the boat out for a sail and absolutely loved it!
Initial comments from our junior coaches who were sailing with Lukas were “I would rather sail the Hansa than my Opti!” – Eli Liefting, and “That was so awesome watching Lukas out there, he really enjoyed it and he outright beat me in a couple of the races we had” – Harry Butler. Lukas has already set his own personal goal of sailing the boat by himself in two weeks time. Helle Westergaard, Lukas’ Mum, thought the boat was fantastic, “It was great to watch Lukas out there, he is so happy and loves coming to the yacht club and meeting his new friends.”
We can’t wait to see Lukas out there more often in his little yellow boat. Watch out Opti sailors, here comes Lukas!