Given the variety of needs represented by AQVA sailors, it goes without saying that the Martin 16 itself is an incredible feat of sailboat design, as well as extremely adaptable to each individual’s requirement. The Martin 16 is a keelboat, though some would say disguised as a dinghy. It is nimble, fun in a breeze but with a 330lb keel it has the key safety feature necessary for adapted sailing – impossible to capsize. The cockpit layout is cleverly designed to cater to those with limited mobility: The helmsmen sits low in the boat, facing forward with a central “joystick” style tiller and both sheets led through a central easy-to-reach pulley, as shown below. All other adjustments - vang, cunningham, outhaul, bilge – are also within arm’s reach.
Granted, not all of our sailors have full use or strength of their arms or hands. In these cases, a device called an “Autohelm” can be easily fitted into the boat. The Autohelm has a small, almost effortless joystick – similar to a video game control – that can be used to steer the boat. In addition, a windlass (winch) can also be fitted on to the boat and both sheets can then also be controlled with a touch of the fingers – left or right for steering, forward or back to ease or trim sails.
Amazingly, the boat can be even further adapted: the Autohelm system can be controlled by an incredible, sophisticated straw system called the “sip 'n puff”. As the name indicates, instead of controlling the helm and sails with hands, the sailor uses his or her breath. By just inhaling or exhaling gently into the straw, the rudder will move left or right and the sails can be let out or drawn in. With this amazing design, high-level quadriplegics – those with no movement below the neck – can independently sail the boat. For safety reasons, sailors are always accompanied by a qualified companion or instructor in the boat, making the outing secure, informative, and fun!
In addition to the Martin 16, AQVA is proud to own an Access Dinghy, and since 2011 a 2.4mR.
The Access is an Australian built boat also designed for adapted sailing and is similar to anOptimist or Pram dinghy. It is much smaller than the Martin, but is responsive, simple to sail, and has been great fun, especially for many of our children in the program.
The 2.4mR (or 2.4 metre) is a single-handed keelboat. It originated in Stockholm in 1983 and was recognized as an international class by ISAF in 1992. It is similar to the Martin 16 in that the helmsperson is seated close to the centre of gravity with all controls within arms reach. It has been used in Paralympic sailing events since the Sidney Games in 2000.