Sperry“When you leave your wheelchair on the dock and get into a boat, it’s freedom”

Sailing on open water is an exhilarating experience for anyone, but what it means for someone who in daily life is confined to a wheelchair can be immeasurable.

The upcoming Défi Sperry Top-Sider Challenge on Saturday, September 6 at the Royal St. Lawrence Yacht Club is a daylong event dedicated to raising funds for these sailors who suffer mobility impairment but whose determination and zest to sail continues unaffected by their physical challenges.

“Sailing for the mobility impaired is not only freeing, it is an act of sheer courage on the water,” said event organizer Patrick Flaherty.

“Our event seeks to honour this courage and determination by raising money for the fantastic organization that supports them: the Association Québecoise de voile adaptée (AQVA).”

Last year, sailors and power boaters from Quebec came together at Dorval’s Royal St. Lawrence Yacht Club to raise funds for AQVA for the first time. The success of that event, and the generous donations of sponsors and participants, allowed the organization to buy a new Martin 16 sailboat for their special program.

Sperry 2“There is a long and noble nautical tradition dedicated to helping those on the water,” said Flaherty. “Our goal in 2014 is to build from last year’s success and hopefully do even more to help these determined sailors.”

Sperry Top-Sider is stepping forward this year as lead sponsor for all the festivities on Saturday, September 6, while McAuslan Brewery will sponsor the event’s McAuslan Cup Pursuit Race as it did in 2013.

“We are extremely grateful to our sponsors,” said Flaherty. “The pursuit race, which will include mobility  impaired sailors, is going to be incredibly exciting.”

In addition to offering participants the chance to race for the McAuslan Cup, others can enjoy a luxury afternoon yacht cruise on Lake St-Louis.  

Said  Flaherty: “Even if you’re not a sailor you can still take part in out event by booking a tour on one of our luxury cruisers for the afternoon. It was very popular last year, and this year promises to be even better.  
Taking part in an afternoon cruise is a great way to get on the water and support AQVA.”

The day’s festivities will also include a dinner dance and a silent auction.

Participants can register their boats ($250*) or reserve their cruise ($75* per person) at: All participants and friends may take part in the dinner dance ($26) and silent auction in the evening, starting at 5 p.m. in the dining room of The Royal St-Lawrence Yacht Club (1350 Chemin Bord du Lac, Dorval, QC  H9S 2E3).

“The cause is fantastic and the day will be fun and exciting,” said Flaherty. “So save the date and participate!”

For more on AQVA go to or