Photos: Rodrigo Moreira/ LX Sailing
Photos: Rodrigo Moreira/ LX Sailing

Portimão hosts world’s biggest adapted sailing championship

Event aims to prove that sailing can be for everyone

Around 230 sailors from 18 countries are expected to take part in Hansa Worlds Portimão Championship, which will take place at the Portimão Marina between October 14 and 21 and is described as the world’s largest adapted sailing championship.

According to organisers, the event is “proof that the sea and wind are for everyone, no matter their physical condition.”

Sailors will be competing for world titles in different classes according to their level of handicap.

Hansa Worlds Portimão Championship is organised by the Portimão Marina Yacht Club and Vela Solidária, a project that promotes adapted sailing and is led by Teia D’Impulsos (the association also known for organising the popular Rota do Petisco gastronomic event).

The event’s main goal is to provide a “unique and unforgettable sporting, social, and cultural experience for sailors, technical teams, and those accompanying them.” It is being held in Portugal for the first time.

“The Hansa Worlds Portimão Championship will be the largest ever international adapted sailing event and will play a crucial role in terms of inclusion. The challenge covers all areas of society, from mobility and social inclusion to economic and cultural impact. It’s a complex organization with 11 management areas, and more than 400 people will be involved daily,” says Luís Brito, the event director.


Portimão hosts world’s biggest adapted sailing championship

In 2019, the same organisers for also responsible for hosting the European Adapted Sailing Championship in Portimão. In this 2023 world championship, however, the number of participants has almost doubled, divided into the five Hansa classes.

The Hansa class uses boats that are “nearly impossible to capsize”, with a low centre of gravity and a ballasted keel. Electric controls can be added to assist in steering and sail control for those with mobility impairments.

As the event’s organisers point out, “Portugal already has a remarkable track record in adapted sailing.” This year, the team of Guilherme Ribeiro and Pedro Câncio Reis (from Vela Solidária) became vice-champions in the adapted RS Venture Connect class, which took place in The Hague, Netherlands. The Portuguese duo made their debut in international competitions in 2022, when they claimed the third-place podium spot in the Adapted Sailing World Championship in Oman.

“For eight days, the horizon of Portimão will be filled with sails, in an event that goes far beyond sports. Each sailor brings an inspiring story of struggle and resilience, like Mary Duffy, who, despite having no arms, insists on driving her car from her native Ireland,” the organisers say.

“Equally remarkable is the participation of the Dutch sailor Wilma Den Broek, who navigates her boat by blowing – she has no arms or legs. The Portimão world championship will feature the presence of prominent figures in adapted sailing, such as the Polish sailor Piotr Cichocki, who has previously participated in the Olympics and was a world champion.”

The championship’s schedule can be consulted on the event’s website.

By Michael Bruxo

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