Rose ‘Strictly success inspires Isle of Wight sailors with disabilities

DISABLED Cowes Sailors celebrate Rose Ayling-Ellis’ phenomenal success – after the 27-year-old danced to victory in last night’s Strictly Come Dancing final (Saturday).

Sailors, many of whom are amputees, paraplegics or – like Rose – have sensory impairments, all train to compete.

They believe Rose paved the way for more people with disabilities to ‘live their dream’.

“We believe that able-bodied people are starting to realize that being physically disabled doesn’t mean you can’t be successful, even in the face of stiff competition,” said Matt Grier, project director at the Andy Cassell Foundation in Cowes.

“One of our regular sailors is blind from birth and has very limited hearing.

“It is heartwarming to be in a boat with him as he confidently takes the helm.”

The association is asking sailors with various disabilities to race with sonar, 23-foot fast keel boats open to the elements.

“Much like Strictly, we make very few allowances and take a level playing field approach,” said Matt.

“Everyone is equal and just has to get by.”

The foundation was started by Andy Cassell; a top-level sailor who was born without legs, but for years competed with able-bodied sailors.

He competed in his first Paralympic Games in Atlanta in 1996 and won a gold medal.

This victory inspired him to find ways to help other people with disabilities.

To learn more about the foundation, visit www.acfsailing.org


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