Support through Sport UK speaks to Lucy Hodges about Blind Sailing ...
Hi Lucy. So tell us about the aims of Blind Sailing ...
Blind Sailing is a Registered Charity. Our aim is to help blind and partially sighted people sail at all levels, all ages and from all backgrounds. We organise regular training sessions in the UK and provide coaching. We also organise racing events. We teach novices to sail and we also coach the more advanced sailors - to enable them to compete at both National and International / World events. Through sailing, we build people's confidence and we also create an environment in which our sailors can talk through some of the challenges that they face in life due to sight loss. We rely on our team of volunteers to provide training and attend events with our sailors - many of our helpers have provided support for over 20 years. We are open to all ages and, currently, our members range from 10 to 70 years old and come from all backgrounds.
Does Blind Sailing cater for people with all levels of sight?
Yes - all levels. The only restrictions are when it comes to racing - for which the sailors have to fall within the sight levels B1, B2 or B3.
Are there Blind Sailing courses across the whole of the UK?
Most of the Visually Impaireds (VIs) join in with normal courses - we do not hold spersific courses (although we have the facilities to do so through Ark Sailing in Windermere, Lakes Leisure in Windermere and the UKSA in the Isle of Wight).
And are there Blind Sailing leagues and competitions?
Yes we join in with the yearly RYA Disabled Regattas and there is also the Blind Nationals every year. Interantionally, there's the alternate Fleet Racing Blind Worlds and the Match Racing Worlds.
When did you take up sailing and how has it changed your life?
I have always been into water sports and at the age of 16 my dad and I bought a boat. My dad found it hard to find ways to teach me to sail - so I joined a disabled weekend down in the Solent and have never looked back! I have competed in five Fleet Racing Worlds and am currently ranked second in the world with the team. Sailing has made me confident and has given me the chance to travel and work in a team. Through sailing, I have been able to get a good job in government, using the skills I have learnt. I now run Blind Sailing and love giving something back to the charity.
If people want to give sailing a go, where can they find out more?
Finally, why would you encourage people to give sailing a go?
I would really recommend sailing. The changes we see in our sailors and their families is incredible; 'freedom' is the word that is most often used. Being part of a team in which you have a role - and the sense of working together with a strong network of friends is amazing!
Thanks for speaking to us, Lucy. We'd love to come and see you guys in action at some point. I once capsized a Pico about ten times in half an hour - so I for one could definitely use some tips!