Sailability legend Marty Ansfield said he was “very happy to see the sport highlighted” following his nomination for The Sportmaker Disability Coach of The Year Award.
The 62-year-old was nominated for this Sport Northern Ireland award which aims to recognise those people in sport who go the extra mile to showcase the power of sport on the 29th of November.
Marty’s work as Chief Instructor at Lough Erne Yacht Club, as well as his work with Sailability epitomises these values. Despite waiting for a double lung transplant and requiring 24-hour oxygen to combat his Pulmonary Fibrosis, his passion and dedication inspires those around him.
Between the 30th of June and 1st of July this year, Marty completed a 24-hour sail to raise money for Sailability.
Battling winds of over 30mph, he persisted through the night, eventually finishing in front of a crowd of 150 people. In total Marty raised over £8,500 for Sailability.
Marty is an army veteran, serving for 37 years. Unfortunately, after he left the military, he suffered badly from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He has since hailed Sailability as crucial in overcoming these issues and it has helped fuel a deep passion for the sport.
He said: “If I didn’t have Lough Erne Yacht Club and Sailability, I’d probably be sitting at home depressed with PTSD.
“Sailability has given me a social aspect- it’s very good for the mental wellbeing of myself and other people.
“What I like about the sport is the comradeship and the sort of competition aspect. It’s very nice to get meeting people in different walks of life.
“Some people think that Sailability is just for people who’ve not got limbs and things like that, but Sailability is also for mental health and for people with conditions like PTSD and autism.
“Go out. Try it. There’s no limits on disability. Barriers are put up in front of you but just tackle them and find a sport that you enjoy because it will definitely help your well being.”
As part of RYA Northern Ireland’s five-year strategy, Navigating The Future, we aim to improve the diversity of those involved in sailing and boating across the country. One of the ways we aim to do this is through Sailability.
During 2024, RYA Northern will be running Sailability events which will be open to all participants who would like to get involved. To stay up to date with when these events will be happening, subscribe to our bi-monthly Ezine.
You can also find more out about Sailability and where to try it on the Sailability section of our website.