Roger Sutton

Disabled children enjoy fun boating trip during Cowes Week regatta.

​Shiver me timbers!  During the Cowes Week regatta of 2023, there were not just elite sailors on the water, but also pirates!

Cowes Sailability Club organised 20 trips on a wheelchair-friendly motor catamaran for disabled children and adults from the Isle of Wight and their families during Cowes Week.  To add to the excitement of the event, children were invited to dress up as daring pirates, using costumes kindly donated by Wootton Estate Agents.

“2023 is the tenth year that Cowes Sailability Club has arranged accessible boat trips for island people with disabilities during the Cowes Week regatta,” says Paul Wilks, the Cowes Sailability Club volunteer who coordinated the event.  “Over 150 people, including many with physical or visual impairments, had a great day out supported by Cowes Sailability Club’s friendly volunteers.  The pirate costumes really added to the sense of adventure!”

Five local organisations sponsored the Cowes Week trips, each providing the funding for Cowes Sailability Club to charter a boat for a day.  These incredibly generous and supportive organisations were: Carisbrooke Shipping, the Isle of Wight High Sheriff’s Trust, Royal Southern Yacht Club Trust, Liz Earle and the Daisie Rich Trust.

Robert Wester, Director at Carisbrooke Shipping, attended the event on the first day and was on shore to welcome families before they set off on their Solent adventures.  “The day really opened my eyes to the work that Cowes Sailability Club does and the incredibly positive impact that its boating activities have on children and adults with a wide range of disabilities.  It was really clear to me just how rewarding and enjoyable the accessible boat trips were for families who face complex challenges every day.”

He adds, “I would like to compliment the volunteers who did a fantastic job, making sure that everyone felt at ease and had a great day out.  Cowes Sailability Club is a very worthwhile local charity, and everyone at Carisbrooke Shipping is really happy to be able to support its work with disabled people on the Isle of Wight.”

The Cowes Week trips departed from East Cowes Marina and took place aboard Wetwheels Solent, a nine-metre catamaran that can accommodate up to ten passengers, including three wheelchair users, at any one time.  The boat is owned and operated by Wetwheels Solent, a not-for-profit Community Interest Company that provides barrier free boating opportunities for people of all ages and all abilities.

“I am very grateful to our sponsors, all of the volunteers who helped throughout the week and the crew of Wetwheels Solent for their support,” says Roger Sutton, Cowes Sailability Club’s Commodore.  “I would particularly like to thank East Cowes Marina for providing a berth for Wetwheels and facilities where Cowes Sailability Club’s volunteers could greet participants.  Cowes Week is an eagerly-anticipated event in our annual programme of activities for people with disabilities and, once again, it has been a great success.”

Last updated September 28