Roger Sutton

Donations and grants needed to secure the future of accessible sailing on the Isle of Wight

Cowes Sailability Club has launched an appeal for funding to help it purchase a new rigid inflatable boat (RIB) to use as safety vessel during sailing activities for people with disabilities on the Isle of Wight. 

Speaking at Cowes Sailability Club’s annual Laying-Up Supper, Commodore Roger Sutton emphasised just how critical this fundraising campaign is for the future of the charity.  “Having a reliable RIB is absolutely critical,” he said.  “For the safety of our members with disabilities and our volunteers, we have to have a RIB in the water whenever sailing takes place.  No safety boat, no sailing.  It’s as simple as that.”

The charity’s current RIB, Zebedee, performs well but is fast approaching the end of her useable life.  While she can continue to fulfil the requirements of a rescue vessel for the 2024 sailing season, a replacement RIB will be needed to take on this vital role by early 2025.  

David Codd, a retired naval architect and Cowes Sailability Club Trustee has led the search for a replacement RIB.  He prepared a detailed specification and evaluated options from RIB builders across the south of England before awarding the contract to Island RIBs, a company with an excellent reputation for RIB design and manufacture.  The RIB that Cowes Sailability Club aspires to purchase is 6.8 metres in length and includes a Suzuki outboard engine, a fixed VHF radio with antenna and navigational equipment. 

“When I visited Island RIBs, I was really impressed by the quality of the manufacturing process,” Codd says.  “The company has offered to build us a boat, to commercial standards, that precisely meets our requirements, for a very competitive price.”

He adds: “While I considered boat builders across the south of England, I am delighted that the winning bid has come from an Isle of Wight business that employs local people and uses island suppliers.  Island RIBs will be nearby to help us with training, servicing and maintenance throughout the lifetime of our new safety boat, which is very reassuring.”

Jo Burke, Director of Island RIBs, says: “Cowes Sailability Club is an amazing local charity that makes a real difference to the lives of people living with disabilities in our community on the Isle of Wight.  We are delighted that the charity’s trustees have selected us to build the new safety boat and look forward to playing a part in helping Cowes Sailability to continue its great work.  We wish everyone involved in the charity the very best of luck with their fundraising appeal!”


Anyone interested in making a donation or awarding a grant in support of this appeal should contact:

Trish Rooke, Fundraising Officer, Cowes Sailability Club

[email protected]