Disabled Sailing Association of British Columbia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Disabled Sailing Association of British Columbia (DSA-BC) is a Canadian not-for-profit organization that enables people with disabilities to take part in a sport it promotes as “accessible and inclusive.” It is located in Vancouver, BC, and has affiliated branches in Victoria, Chemainus and Kelowna.


DSA-BC operates a fleet of eight specially designed Martin 16 sailboats from Jericho Sailing Centre. These are designed to enable people with all levels of disability to enjoy sailing as a recreation activity or competitive high performance endeavor.

People with high-level disabilities, such as quadriplegia, have complete control of the vessel, with many sailing solo.[1]

Each sailing season, DSA-BC reports that it hosts between 800 and 1,000 sailing experiences at Jericho and more from its affiliated branches. This ranges from leisure sailing to competitive racing.[2]

The organization states sailing “promotes freedom and independence” for people with disabilities through the opportunity to take part in an exciting and challenging outdoor sport.


Quadriplegic Sam Sullivan founded DSA-BC in 1989, using a British-made Sunbird dinghy. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had originally presented the boat to Rick Hansen during Expo '86 in Vancouver, celebrating his Man in Motion world tour. Hansen subsequently presented the boat to Sullivan in order that people with disabilities could benefit from it.[3]

During its first summer, people with a range of disabilities logged a total of 22 sails. The major breakthrough for the sport came in 1993 with the addition of (mouth-operated) sip n’ puff controls, which are connected to a power assist system. This enabled people with little or no arm movement to sail.[4]

In 1995, the successor to the Sunbird was developed by Vancouver yacht designer Don Martin. The Martin 16 can be controlled conventionally, or by joystick, or through the sip n’ puff interface.


DSA-BC initially used the Sunbird, to which it added Sip n’ Puff controls in 1993.

However, the Sunbird’s limitations could not be ignored, so Sullivan commissioned a new boat designed specifically for adaptive sailing. When Vancouver’s Don Martin designed the Martin 16 in 1995, he included the requirements of power-assisted controls into his design brief.[5]

The weighted keel makes it a very safe and stable boat, but it is also responsive. The addition of a portable, modular sip n’ puff system in 1998 – which can be dropped into a boat when needed – adds to the versatility of the vessel.[6]

Affiliated societies[edit]

The Sam Sullivan Disability Foundation consists of six affiliated societies:


  1. ^ Disabilities no bar to sailing The Star, January 3, 2008
  2. ^ http://www.disabledsailingbc.org/about.shtml, retrieved February 9, 2010
  3. ^ Wind, Sun and Spray Archived July 6, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Abilities, Summer 1997
  4. ^ The History of Disabled Sailing Association retrieved February 9, 2010
  5. ^ Martin 16 (boat reviews),[permanent dead link] Canadian Yachting, retrieved February 9, 2010
  6. ^ Martin 16 Specifications Archived November 19, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., retrieved February 9, 2010

External links[edit]