Friday, June 21, 2024

Sailing experience restored after 60 year hiatus


Bolton Clarke Templestowe aged care resident, Karl Leeman, is getting back behind the tiller after more than 60 years away from sailing.

Karl grew up sailing in Lake Zurich in Switzerland with his friends but left the hobby behind when he moved to Australia in his 20s.

“I grew up on the shores of a big lake in Switzerland called Lake Zurich,” Karl said.

“I had a motorboat but a friend of mine at school had a catamaran and so we used to go sailing.

“We were in our early teens then and we would go regularly but once I moved to Australia in 1963 I stopped sailing.

“That was about 60 years ago – I came to Australia for a better climate but no one told me about Melbourne’s weather!” he said.

After one of Karl’s children found out about the accessible sailing experiences with Sailability, he was only too happy to get back in the boat again.

Sailability is a program that offers an additional level of support, an established network of volunteers, and equipment to assist people of all abilities to sail.

Sailability was established in Australia by the Victorian Yachting Council in 1991. By 2000, Sailability Victoria had been incorporated as a not-for-profit charitable organisation. It now has 22 programs around the State offering sailing experiences to sailors of all ages, abilities and backgrounds, enabling them to become involved in sailing and their local sailing club.

“My son and I go together now – I operate the tiller to tell the boat where to go and he operates the mainsail and it’s fantastic,” says Karl.

“I’ve been in a wheelchair since 2010 after I had a hideous stroke and now the left side of my body is out of action. I didn’t think I would ever sail again but they have it all set up down at The Boat Shed.

“On the jetty there is a hoist and they put me in the sling that takes me out of the chair and swings me around and gently puts me into the boat.”

Supported by the Templestowe team, Karl now takes advantage of the clear weather to sail in Sailability’s specially-designed sailing boats every Friday at Albert Park.

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