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Our History

How We Started

The story of North American adaptive sailing began when Margaret Thatcher present Rick Hansen with a modified, British made 16-foot Sunbird sailboat in Vancouver during Expo 86 to celebrate his “Man in Motion” world tour. When she presented him with this gift, she did not know the impact her gesture would soon have.

Hansen later gave the boat – named the Iron Lady –  to Sam Sullivan. Sam  hadIron Lady
become a tetraplegic at the age of 19 and went on to found a number of non profit organizations dedicated to improving the quality of life of people living with significant physical disabilities in Vancouver and beyond. Hansen asked Sam Sullivan to use this specially adapted boat for the collective good of the larger community of people with physical disabilities.

With the Sunbird in hand, Sam founded the Disabled Sailing Association of BC in 1989, the first sailing association for people with a disability in Canada.  and began raising funds to acquire more boats. Within a few short years, DSA had a total of sixteen (16) specially adapted Sunbird sailboats in three British Columbia chapters- Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna.

Since it’s inception in 1992 the Victoria Branch of the Disabled Sailing Association has provided children and adults on the island with the opportunity to experience sailing and has attracted many volunteers.  We continue to deliver sailing programs and are dedicated to providing people with disabilities the opportunity to participate in recreational and competitive sailing.