Open letter to Royal Akarana Yacht Club

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Open letter to Royal Akarana Yacht Club

To whom it may concern;

Lukas started sailing with the Royal Akarana Yacht Club in the spring 2014. Lukas has always enjoyed the chance to steer the boat when out on the water with his granddads and was keen to give sailing a go, now it is the highlight of his week.

Despite Lukas’ increased challenges in life due to Cerebral Palsy and reduced hearing, we have always tried to include Lukas in our family on equal grounds to his younger brothers and offer him equal opportunities.

Despite running being harder for Lukas then for his peers and brothers, Lukas loves PE at school and have given several sports after school a go (playball, football, tennis, swimming, horse riding, skiing), as well as completed one Weetbix tryatlon and taken part in the Halberg Junior Disability Games last year, however, sailing seems to be the summer sport for Lukas.

With sailing it is not a given that Lukas is last because his legs will not run as fast as everyone else, he has a fair chance to experience being in the lead and his competitive nature gets a chance to get a boost rather then a hit. We see Lukas coming home exhausted from sailing with a smile on his lips telling stories about being the one doing the best turn around a marker. I believe it has helped encourage Lukas to dare take part in team sports like netball and softball at school.

Growing older and towards a teen, we see the challenge and awareness of living with a disability both physically and mentally. We believe that the sailing is helping to give Lukas’ self confidence a boost.

The Royal Akarana Yacht Club has been very supportive of Lukas right from the beginning. Investing in the Hansa 2.3 accessible boat that Lukas is sailing in, means he does not need to be scared of capsizing, which gives him confidence on the water. He is sailing with lots of young kids who are very supportive of him and all wants to sail with him in his boat. When he is on the water I believe his disability is less of a boundary.

I asked Lukas to describe what it is he love about sailing, he answered: “I feel free out on the water and I feel no different to everyone else. My goal is to take part in the Paralympics one day.”

Sailing is giving Lukas so much more then just a nice time out on the water, it is giving him a chance to dream big.

Helle Westergaard
Mother of Lukas Gill

Lukas Gill christening the new Hansa 2.3 "Raye"

Lukas Gill christening the new Hansa 2.3 “Raye”

February 17th, 2016|Categories: All News|


  1. Jan Apel February 17, 2016 at 8:54 pm - Reply

    Well done Lukas! I know the feeling of freedom on the water and ‘dreaming big’ can certainly bring rewards and happiness. Sailability Auckland has a sailing simulator that has become very popular with new sailors. The simulator can be used during winter so that you can hone your sailing skills for many different types of boats. This is how I learned to sail……..and I’m still learning and loving it.

  2. Helle Westergaard February 17, 2016 at 9:16 pm - Reply

    Thanks for that, good to know, might be worth a try.

  3. Matt February 17, 2016 at 9:53 pm - Reply

    Lukas you are a champion. I hope you do make it to the Paraolympics. Everyone at RAYC will help you get there in any way we can, sailing is a fantastic sport for life and no matters hat your l vel of achievement I’m sure it will always bring you pleasure. For me growing up sailing gave me self reliance, belief in my own abilities and a love of the ocean. I’m so happy you’re loving it. It’s so cool that you are part of the sailing and RAYC community. May the wind always fill your sails and the waves lap gently at your feet πŸ™‚

  4. Suellen February 17, 2016 at 10:07 pm - Reply

    Lukas it’s been awesome getting to know you! You have definitely come out of your shell and it’s great to see you enjoying the sport that we all love as well. Keep at it – anything is possible as long as you believe.

  5. Christiaan February 18, 2016 at 6:36 am - Reply

    Now here is a story of a young sailor – he loves the sea, the freedom, winds and is competitive. Welcome to our world. Lukas you will have a very privileged life ahead of you with many adventures to come. Enjoy it and I wish you well.

  6. James Hallam February 19, 2016 at 9:41 am - Reply

    Great stuff!

  7. Andrew Knights February 20, 2016 at 1:06 am - Reply

    You are so right Lukas. There is certainly nothing like being out on the water. Always remember, a happy boat is a fast boat.

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