The PDP marks the first in a three-year partnership with Metazone to develop Para Sailing in Singapore and raise awareness in the region. In total, 30 sailors and coaches from Japan, Cambodia, and Malaysia, as well as the hosts, Singapore, took part.
While helping sailors prepare for competition, it also offered training opportunities and looked to develop a group of selected coaches to lead follow-up programs in Singapore as Para Sailing continues to grow.
Jevan Tan, Chair of the RSYC Regatta and founder of Metazone, a non-profit, all volunteer organisation involved in youth development in Singapore, said, “Inclusion is a very important area for us. We have committed to a three-year programme here in Singapore, to support the surrounding nations in Asia that are also keen to establish Para Sailing in their countries“
“For us, the most important thing was understanding and trying to learn about Para Sailing, how we can interface with the community and grow together as an inclusive group. That’s what we need to do in Singapore, and we intend to do it well. Next year we would like to deepen what we have done, both in terms of activities and discussions.”
Sessions focused on how important being aware of the varying sailors’ needs, as well as adapting facilities to ensure accessibility for all. There were safety instructions and introductions to the range of Para Sailing equipment used in World Sailing events, and a guide to International Paralympic Committee (IPC) classifications.
Alongside the PDP, Metazone invited various stakeholders to participate in a Roundtable Discussion on Sustainability and Inclusiveness, a key component in World Sailing’s Strategy. During the session, parents, employers, youth and adults, both able and disabled, focused on the challenges and success for the physical disabled as well as neurodiverse individuals.
The session was well received and brought together sailors from the participating countries, as well as non-sailors, to better understand the different challenges faced by people with disabilities. The event addressed issues facing the region as well as sharing several success stories from Singapore, including the Big Bro Big Sis programme and The Sailing and Sustainability Program run by Metazone.
Jevan added, “The roundtable and discussions with the students were critical. It helped us gain insights and we discovered different pathways to reach the youth. Our community need to better engage all types of sailors, including those who are neuro-diverse or with physical disabilities. We would like to do better in integrating these groups into the sailing community.”
“The journey starts here for the young sailors, our schools and teenagers. We can help them better understand the sensitivities for people who are different, both physical, neuro-diverse, and cultural as well. We have started this journey and hope to encourage more of our friends from other Asian countries who couldn’t be with us this year.
With the insights from the countries who participated this year, we hope to fine tune the PDP to support what they need, to develop programmes in their countries. Next year we hope to run a full regional Inclusive Race with more countries as part of our RSYC Regatta. I hope we will see more people here in Singapore in July 2023.”
World Sailing, along with Member National Associations, Class Associations and sailors across the globe, are campaigning to see sailing reinstated for the Los Angeles 2028 Paralympic Games. Para Sailing featured in five successive Games until, in 2015, it was announced that Para Sailing was being dropped from Tokyo 2020. World Sailing has worked tirelessly to ensure sailing meets the criteria set by the IPC and become the first sport in Paralympic Games history to gain reinstatement.
World Sailing has developed a Para World Sailing Strategy to increase worldwide para sailing participation to 45 nations on five continents by the end of 2023. Participation has already increased by 30% over the past five years and initiatives like the PDP provide the framework to introduce more sailors to the sport, offer further training to coaches and officials, as well as aligning existing national classification systems with the IPC’s classification for international events.
The PDP has raised awareness of the requirements of para sailing in all classes, and created new opportunities within the sport for athletes, coaches and officials. Currently there are only 11 International Classifiers worldwide, however PDP events in Oman, Italy and now in Singapore will aim to boost participation at every level to help propel the sport towards reinstatement for the LA28 Paralympic Games.