Sept 13, 2018
By Rob Dunbar
Rick Hansen’s Man in Motion tour of 1985-1987 was an epic event that has created an incredible legacy. His goal to bring disability awareness to the general population have far surpassed those expectations.
With then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s gift to Rick of the world’s first adaptable sailboat the first Mobility Cup was chaired by Sam Sullivan in 1991 prior to him becoming Mayor of Vancouver. This year the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron (RNSYS) in conjunction with Sailable NS, the regatta made its third appearance in Halifax Harbour. Canada’s annual regatta for sailors with disabilities promotes independent sailing at both the recreational and competitive level.
How competitive is it? Look no further than this year’s regatta Chair, Paralympic Gold Medallist in Beijing 2008 and World Champion 2009, Paul Tingley who is also regarded as one of Canada’s premier sailors. But it’s not all about competition. The participants are placed in either the Silver or Gold fleet. Gold is for the seasoned veteran of sailing and silver is for the new participants to the sport. The common thread being that all are out to have fun and leave the wheelchair at the dock. “……to leave the wheelchair at the dock to enjoy complete freedom and be in control is truly an empowering feeling” says co-organizer Kevin Penny.
This year’s rendition has 32 sailors, 14 in the Gold fleet and 18 in the Silver fleet, representing 7 provinces as well as representation from the United States. After a week of hot racing in a very hot summer of fickle to fair winds the top 3 placing in the Silver Fleet were Nicole Flynn (Ont), Antoine Robert (PQ) and in first place Doreen Ames (Ont). Top three placings in the Gold Fleet went to: Alyssa Beliveau (NB) Murray Brown (NS) and the winner of the Mobility Cup is Brian Peckover (Ont)
Of course, the success of a regatta like Mobility Cup relies heavily on long time sponsors like CN Rail and this year’s Anchor sponsor, Clearwater Seafood. In any regatta the sailors get the glory but it’s the unsung heroes behind the scenes that make a regatta successful. Both on-water and on-shore logistics dictate that the organizing committee and dedicated volunteers work diligently for many months prior to the regatta. All at the mercy of Mother Nature. A small army of dedicated volunteers, headed by the organizing committee of Sailable NS, came together to make Mobility Cup 2018 a huge success and the co-operation of long-time partner RNSYS is greatly appreciated. All sailors, sponsors and volunteers stand out as winners at Mobility Cup.
Photos are by Jerry Lockett a Halifax based film-maker, author and photographer