A SAILING group on Portland which provides opportunities for disabled people is celebrating the launch of two new boats.
Chesil Sailability, based at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, held a ceremony to mark the occasion.
Elma Shipley donated two Hansa 303 boats to the group as part of the Rod Shipley Memorial Fund with the Chesil Trust.
The boats have been named Rod Shipley 1 and Rod Shipley 2.
Mr Shipley started sailing in boats at an early age before spending many years in the Royal Navy, with his last posting in Portland.
He was involved in the Royal Dorset Yacht Club and became well known in the area after running Chesil Beach Motors. He passed away in 2012.
His wife, Elma, set up the memorial fund to create opportunities for people to get involved in sailing.
More than 40 people attended a ceremony to mark Mrs Shipley’s donation, including Mayor of Weymouth and Portland Kate Wheller.
Hugh de Iongh, committee chairman of Chesil Sailability, said it was a brilliant event.
He added: “We were so pleased to be able to share the afternoon with so many local dignitaries, friends of the Shipleys and our members.
“The weather helped too, and we are really grateful to our members who helped it run so smoothly.”
Mr de Iongh said the boats would be very important for Chesil Sailability, giving great pleasure and making a real difference to peoples’ lives.
He added: “Hansa 303s are the Land Rovers of the accessible sailing world – simple, robust and stable.
“They can be sailed two up, or single handed, and can be adapted for people with severe physical disabilities with controls.
“The ability for people with severe disabilities to sail independently is something very special that we can do, and gives them a unique freedom on the water.”
Up until recently Chesil Sailability had been using old boats on loan. These two new boats will form the core of the organisation’s new fleet.
The boats were taken out sailing after the launch event. Whilst somebody went for their very first sail on one of them, the other was used by two sailors training for national championships.
Mr de Iongh said: “Everyone came ashore smiling.”