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Setting Sail to Freedom

The sea has always been synonymous with new horizons and sailors have often seemed the least encumbered explorers. Sailing offers that freedom to athletes with a disability. After previewing in Atlanta 1996, and becoming a full medal sport in Sydney 2000, Sailing has soared in popularity; 28 teams competed this year for the 16 Paralympic slots.

One important addition to the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games is a spectator boat that allows persons using a wheelchair to enjoy the races by simply wheeling aboard. “Solis Invictus,” or Unbeatable Sun, is a Dufour 43, specially designed and adapted by Antonis Mangos to facilitate Greek Island cruising for charter clients with mobility impairment.

A stern ramp drops to allow chairs to wheel directly into the shady cockpit and a mechanical lift accesses the lower sleeping cabins and toilet facilities. Hoists are available to help swimmers get in and out of the water, or to assist clients climbing into bunks. The well-designed boat offers a luxurious holiday for clients with or without a disability, while the experience of Captain Antonis and his wife Elizabeth ensures guests have a comfortable journey – just as spectators did during the Paralympic Games.

This article is used with the permission of the International Paralympic Committee.

About the Author

This article was written by Antonis Mangos of DR Yachting.