Sailing for the Disabled

  • Frensham Pond Sailability aims to provide first class sailing facilities for disabled people. Sailability is based at the beautiful setting of Frensham Pond Sailing Club, near Farnham in Surrey. The sailing club prides itself on the quality of its racing, training and safety programmes for people of all ages and abilities.


History of Disabled Sailing at Frensham


Disabled sailing at Frensham started 1982. It was run by Farnham and District Sports Association for the Disabled (FDSAD), founded by Peter Hooper, a very energetic double amputee, who felt that disabled people were not being given the sporting opportunities that they rightly deserved.


At first, FDSAD had just four members and one trusty Wayfarer dinghy to introduce people who had never sailed before to the delights of sailing. In 1997, Lottery funding enabled the Association to install a hoist and purchase another Wayfarer fitted with chairs for people who had difficulty supporting themselves. In 1998, a second-hand Challenger trimaran was obtained. This proved so popular that in 2000 another new Challenger was funded through the Diana Campbell Trust. Two new Hansa Access dinghies were also purchased in 2000.


In 1999, with disabled sailing going from strength to strength, Frensham Pond Sailing Club (FPSC), in partnership with FDSAD, decided to seek a major improvement in the facilities and activities for disabled sailors at Frensham. Now the organisation of disabled sailing at Frensham is called Frensham Pond Sailability.


Launch of Frensham Pond Sailability


Frensham Pond Sailability was officially launched on 22 September 2001 by the Rt. Hon. Lord Wakenham. This marked the successful completion of a £238,000 project funded by grants from Sport England Lottery Fund, Waverley Borough Council and over 40 other organisations, together with FPSC funds and member donations.


The project aimed to make the sailing club more accessible to disabled sailors, and to maximise the integration of disabled sailors into club activities. FPs now provides disabled sailors, either individually or in groups, with a full range of dinghy sailing, from cruising around Frensham Pond to competitive racing in Paralympic class mini-keelboats.


What sailing does Frensham Pond Sailability offer?


Organised sailing for disabled sailors takes place between April and October, on Saturday and Thursday mornings. Helpers and qualified instructors are always on-site to enable you to do just what you want. Using very stable and Laser Stratos dinghies, you can be taken for a cruise on the lake enjoying the local scenery and wildlife. Alternatively, you can, if you wish, learn to sail independently and competitively using the Hansa 2.3 and 303 dinghies, or 2.4mR mini-keelboats.


The Hansa boats are designed for disabled sailors to sail solo, with the option of using power controls operated by a joystick similar to that used on a wheelchair. There is also a two-seater version of the Hansa dinghy for instruction. All of these are designed not to capsize. All sailors are encouraged to participate as much as possible with the regular sailing and social activities of Frensham Pond Sailing Club.


Who can sail?


Novice and experienced sailors, aged from 10 onwards, with a very wide range of disabilities are very welcome. We are pleased to welcome individuals who attend independently as well as organisations that  support disabled people, subject to agreement on how much resource is required.


Just because you have not sailed before is no reason for not having a go. It is a great sport which we are confident you will enjoy.  Most of our members had not sailed before they joined us.




On shore you will find level concrete paths to all the buildings, a concrete parking area, dedicated changing rooms with toilet/shower, and relatively easy access to the boats. We have several  hoists which allow sailors to be lifted from a wheelchair straight into a boat alongside the jetty. We supply you with buoyancy aids and sailing waterproofs should it be raining or windy. All you need to bring is soft footwear (training shoes) and a change of clothing if you think you may get wet. You may wish to bring a member of your family or a helper with you.


FPS has been awarded RYA Sailability Foundation Entry Level Status for the quality of its facilities for disabled sailors. We have also recently won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, which reflects the dedication of our volunteers.


Training Opportunities


Sailing skills are taught by qualified and experienced volunteer sailing instructors, either informally or as part of the RYA National Dinghy Certificate Scheme. FPSC is an RYA Recognised Training Establishment. Other courses are regularly available, such as Safety Boat operation and Disability Awareness training courses.


Social Activities


FPSC organises a number of social activities during the year, including, talks,summer BBQs and social evenings.