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NEW ZEALAND
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BLIND SAILING IN NEW ZEALAND

  • Not all of those who are referred to as BLIND are TOTALLY BLIND.
  • Some people have degrees of sight or have sight disabilities.
  • A few blind people have sailed for many years before 1988.
  • Since 1988, sailing opportunities have been offered to all New Zealand blind people through the New Zealand Council for Sailing for the Blind and Vision Impaired Inc.
  • The Council is formed by representatives of the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, blind sailors themselves and supporters.
  • The foremost aim of the Council is to involve more blind and sighted volunteers, in all New Zealand centres, in all types of sailing experience.
  • The executive deals with the day by day business of the council.
  • Boat owners, the Royal New Zealand Navy, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, the Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind and many volunteers support blind sailing.
  • Many blind New Zealanders sail regularly with their sighted volunteers. Some own their own yachts.
  • Of course, sighted volunteers are essential for safety and to advise, but blind sailors are trained to carry out all boat handling duties.
  • The Annual National Training School held in Auckland has introduced many, sighted and blind, to learn to sail.
  • Other centres are encouraged and assisted to organise local schools.
  • Over the years financial support has been received from many individuals, yachting groups and community organisations.
  • The Council is affiliated to the Yachting New Zealand, Blind Sailing International and Blind Sport New Zealand.

SAILING BLIND MANUAL

  • First produced in 1994, the Manual incorporates articles written by experts on many boating topics and yachting basics, some adapted for blind sailors.
  • It is the basis for instruction of blind sailors and 'beginning' sighted helpers.
  • It is used in the conduct of the Annual Sailing School.
  • It includes a system of Certification.
  • It has been ordered by many groups around the world.

NEW ZEALAND BLIND SAILING GROUPS

  • The first club especially for the blind is the Auckland Vision Impaired Sailing Club which is affiliated to the Council and owns and operates two boats.
  • Some community yacht clubs have blind people as ordinary members.
  • A continuing development drive aims to establish more blind sailing "Cells", clubs and groups in New Zealand centres.

BLIND SAILING INTERNATIONAL

  • New Zealand convened and led the formation of Blind Sailing International
  • and provided the Resident Executive and the World Secretariat, 1994-1997.
  • Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Sweden, South Africa and New Zealand are founding Country Members and Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, Texas and Massachusetts were the original State Members. Since then, Finland, France, Japan, Norway, Spain, Italy, Rhode Island USA, Miami USA have become involved. Other countries are expected to participate in the future.

INTERNATIONAL SUCCESSES

  • New Zealand blind sailors have been World Champions 1992, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2002 and 2006.
  • New Zealand blind sailors hold nine Gold, a three Silver and three Bronze medals, over six International Regattas - in Auckland 1992, 1994 Fremantle, Australia, 1997 Weymouth, England, 1999 Miami, Florida, 2002 Gargnano Italy and 2006 Newport Rhode Island USA.
  • Our blind sailors are very dependent on expert sighted tacticians but are required to helm, handle the sails and sheets without hands-on sighted help.
  • Blind sailors are graded competitively B1 - totally blind, B2 - some light perception and B3 - a sight disability, in line with Blind Sport International gradings.
  • A continuing effort and support will be required to raise sufficient finance for New Zealand to continue to defend world titles as well as to ensure development at home.

SAILING SCHOOLS

  • National Schools, held since 1988, have introduced many blind people and sighted helpers to sailing.
  • Are annually held in Auckland, usually in November.
  • A grading system; from beginners to experienced, ensure all abilities are catered for.
  • Teaching at the Schools is based on the manual 'Sailing Blind' and incorporates both practical and theoretical activities.
  • It is usual to attract over 30 blind sailors and the same number of sighted volunteers to the Annual School.
  • The Paxus Cup, now renamed the Bob Larkin Memorial Cup, virtually the New Zealand Blind Sailing Championship, is sailed during the School or at another convenient time.
  • The School concludes with a social event and prizegiving.