Special Olympics state championships 2017 competitor Sonja Macfarlane, training at Mooloolaba for next year's event.
Special Olympics state championships 2017 competitor Sonja Macfarlane, training at Mooloolaba for next year's event. Mark Dowsett

Double Bay to host Special Olympics sailing regatta

SPECIAL Olympics sailing comes to the Sunshine Coast for the first time when the state championships are held at Double Bay on Kawana Island in May next year.

Event co-ordinator, Sailability Sunshine Coast's Alan Winter, says about 20 sailors are expected for the two-day regatta.

"The sailors are generally able-bodied, but have cognitive issues," Winter said.

"They sail under five different categories with a maximum of eight boats allowed in a race."

The competitors will race either solo or dual with a helper.

In both cases, the competitor must helm.

Three Coast sailors are expected to race in the championships: Sonja Macfarlane, Damien Hallam and Anthony Boyd.

All are used to sailing solo, not racing, on the river at Mooloolaba.

"But there is a big difference from sailing solo and entering a competition and in teaching them to cross the start line at the right time," Winter said.

Boyd is the only one of the three without a great deal of sailing experience, while Macfarlane was an active sailor before her fall and Hallam has raced in Special Olympics events previously.

"We don't have many sailors who are capable of doing it (the event)," Winter said.

"There is concentration and eyesight and all sorts of other things that come into it that rule out a lot of our clients."

All three Coast sailors are training on Tuesdays and Fridays at Mooloolaba, plus they will get a chance to sail on the regatta venue on April 8 and 22.

With the support of the Sunshine Coast Council, the race venue at Kawana has been chosen as it provides disabled shore facilities, no constant marine traffic and no tidal influences.

It also provides a pleasant environment for spectators and carers to watch all the sailing action.

There will be some venue logistics to be worked out before the event, Winter says, as the eight Access 303s sailing dinghies, owned by SSC, will have to be unrigged and towed from Mooloolaba to Kawana.

The plan is to test out this process in April when SSC holds its annual regatta for volunteers.


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