Disabled Sailing

Disabled Sailing in Canada and The U.S.A.


Photo of a disabled person sailing a small boat
Disabled sailor sailing a small boat.

The Adaptive Sailing Association of British Columbia (ASABC) (formerly DSABC) has been providing opportunities for people with physical disabilities to experience recreational and competitive sailing in fully accessible sailboats for over 30 years.

Sailing for people with significant physical disabilities got its start in Canada in 1989, when Sam Sullivan used a British-made Sunbird dinghy to launch the first few sails at the Jericho Sailing Centre on English Bay. Today, the ASABC operates eight specially designed Canadian made Martin 16 sailboats and hosts 1000+ sails each (non-COVID) year at Jericho and more from its affiliated branches in Victoria, Chemainus, and Kelowna. The Martin 16 sailboat is designed specifically to be accessible for all levels of ability, with use of either a joystick control or sip and puff technology. Participants range from novices to experienced racers who advance to join the Race Club, representing ASABC in local regattas and national competitions.

Inspired by ASABC and Sam Sullivan's efforts to expose more and more people with very high levels of physical disabilities to the sport, adaptive sailing has now spread across Canada, throughout the US and around the world. Disabled sailing played a major role in the Summer Paralympics every four years up until 2020 when it was dropped for the Tokyo Paralympics. See the post Para Sailing will not be included in the Paralympic Games for LA28.

There are several other training and competitive programs throughout Canada such as:


Photo of a sailing assistant with a disabled sailor.
Assisted sailing.

Adaptive Sailing, once part of the Disabled Sports USA organization, is now part of the new Move United organization that was created when Disabled Sports USA merged with the Adaptive Sports USA organization in 2020. [Wikipedia]

Move United is a member of the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee. The organization (headquartered in Rockville, Maryland) operates community parasports programs through over 210 member organizations in 45 states. Mission: Ensuring everyone, regardless of ability, experiences the life-changing power of sport and is included in their community.

Follow Move United in one of several social media aps.

There are several adaptive sailing training and competitive programs throughout the U.S. such as: