Crew shows can-do

FOR someone with little control of their body taking the helm of a 54-foot racing yacht is empowering.

That is exactly what Sailors With Disabilities (SWD) is able to do for schoolchildren with disabilities.

The crew on the NRMA Insurance-sponsored yacht has been stopping in at several ports on its return to Sydney from Hamilton Island, taking groups of students on trips they would otherwise never experience. Yesterday they were in Rosslyn Bay for disabled Rockhampton youth.

The yacht is specifically equipped to handle wheelchairs. Through a computerised joystick, the passenger could become captain and direct the action, crew member Alan Grundy said.

The end result was smiling faces, laughter and achievement for all involved, he said.

The yacht, skippered by David Pescud, is a well-known competitor in the prestigious Sydney to Southport yacht race and Sydney to Hobart races each year.

"We've been spurred by our achievements to take on new challenges, and we think this is a unique chance to show and encourage children with disabilities to consider what they can do ? not what they can't,'' Mr Pescud said.



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