Thought you couldn’t sail? Think again!

Sailing is a fantastic activity for people with almost any disability, or if you’re not quite as mobile as you once were. 

Sailability @ Whitefriars have the facilities, support, and boats that can enable people to not only sail leisurely, but to compete on level terms with everybody else if that’s what “floats your boat”.  Families can get a lot from taking to the water and enjoying the experience and surroundings whilst learning a new skill together.  

We depend on a team of well trained volunteers to provide a fun, safe environment.  There are instructors and buddy sailors to help people to achieve their sailing goals, or simply to get the therapeutic benefits of taking to the water. 

We need more volunteers!! - You don’t need to sail to help.  Visit our volunteering page for more information 

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“They are always excited to go and the expressions on their faces during the sailing experience is priceless. It is so hard to find activities for young adults with profound multiple learning difficulties to attend that they get so much enjoyment and pleasure out of.” – Kim, Aspects 2.

 “I sailed dinghies as a hobby in my late teens and early 20s but having lost my sight as a result of a genetic disorder I never thought that I would be able to sail again. Being out on the water gives me a sense of freedom and equality that I thought was lost to me forever.” – Chris T

 “The positive impact of Whitefriars Sailability and the ability for me to sail again upon my independence and well-being cannot be underestimated.” – George P

 “It was hard to find something that I could do once I became paralysed from my shoulders down.  Who’d have thought that I’d be able to compete in events around the world?” – David D


The Sailability group operate every Wednesday from April through October.  Whitefriars Sailing Club welcome the inclusion of people with disabilities; as a full member of the club you are free to enjoy all the racing, cruising, and social events that the club has on offer.

Click here for the Sailability@Whitefriars brochure

Sailing is a fantastic sport for people with disabilities. It enables you to take control of the dinghy and feel independent; just enjoying the scenery, learning a new skill, or even competing in races. We appreciate that this can be quite daunting, and will help you to develop at your own pace, using suitable equipment, and sailing with experienced sailors if necessary. It is also great for families who want to find an activity that they can all enjoy together. You don’t need to have sailed before, we can provide training through the Sailability Achievement Scheme and Certification for Disabled Sailing and RYA level 1-3 qualifications. Whitefriars Sailing Cub is an RYA Training Centre.


We have a wide range of boats to suit different needs. Some of our boats have more supportive seating that keeps the sailor in the centre of the boat. This is especially useful for people with little or no trunk control, or limited mobility. For sailors who can still move from side to side, we cater for this as well.  The boats are also very stable and difficult to capsize.

Facilities and equipment

We have a large purpose built pontoon which is accessible and stable for wheelchairs, or for those with walking difficulties. There are two hoists which can transfer people comfortably in and out of the boats.  We can provide slings, but bring your own if you have one. The club has a supply of buoyancy aids that you may use if you wish, as well as waterproofs.

Throughout Sailability sessions there are safety boats on standby, manned by experienced volunteers, just in case. There is always a Senior Instructor on site at all Sailability sessions.

Most of the clubhouse and grounds are wheelchair accessible, and we do have an accessible bathroom with hoist and changing table.


Sailability @ Whitefriars welcome groups, but do have a limit on how many can be catered for over the season. It is possible that concessionary rates might be available.

If you have a group that you think would benefit from sailing contact David Durston – [email protected]


Our volunteers are here to welcome you to our club, to put your mind at rest about any concerns that you have, to understand your needs, and to ensure that you have a rewarding experience of sailing and want to come back.

Many of our volunteers are experienced sailors, and have been working with people with various levels and types of disability for many years.

If you have a carer please bring them with you to help with dressing, medication and any other personal needs. Our volunteers can only provide assistance with  sailing relate matters such as buoyancy aids.


Initially some of our volunteers will sail with you, unless you already experienced and have suitable equipment that meet your needs. They will help you to get a feel for the wind, and explain the broad principles of sailing.

Sailors attending Sailability sessions will be encouraged to embark on the Sailability Achievement Scheme and Certification for Disabled Sailing. Once confident, and matched with suitable equipment, you will be free to enjoy sailing independently, or with others if you prefer.
Whitefriars Sailing Club are a recognised RYA training centre. Through this you could achieve higher levels of competency, learn how to race, or even become an Instructor, or Coach yourself.

What you need

You don’t need to buy expensive sailing kit.  All you need is sensible footwear eg training shoes, and outdoor clothing which is appropriate to the conditions. In addition, if it is hot and sunny, bring a sun hat and sun cream. If it looks like a rainy day, bring waterproofs if you have them. Some disabled people struggle with temperature control, if you do, dress sensibly.

If you have a sling that you prefer to use, then please bring that with you too.  Our volunteers aren’t familiar with your needs, so bring someone who can position the sling correctly. Volunteers will assist with hoisting and positioning.

We take your safety very seriously, so on your first visit you will be asked to complete a form to gather basic information to understand your needs.







Volunteering at Sailability@Whitefriars can be an extremely rewarding, fulfilling, sociable, and enjoyable experience. Not only are you helping people with disabilities to experience and enjoy sailing in a safe environment, but you can enjoy the beautiful surroundings of the Cotswold Water Parks. The Club prides itself on being a friendly club, and you will soon get to know the other members of the team.

If you don’t have experience of working with people who have mental or physical disabilities, that is not a problem. We provide training, and you can work closely with our experienced volunteers until you are comfortable. You will not be expected to do anything that you are not comfortable doing.

You don't have to be able to sail, but if you want to learn we can teach you. Even if you have a disability yourself, there there are many roles that you can contribute to:

  • Meeting and greeting
  • Organising and coordinating groups
  • Chatting with our sailors to understand their needs and making them feel comfortable
  • Some people have friends, family, or carers with them; they often also need support
  • Helping in the kitchen with snacks and drink
  • Fitting sailors with buoyancy aids
  • Rigging and de-rigging boats
  • Helping our sailors into and out of boats
  • Using hoists
  • Crewing and helming for our sailors
  • Being part of the Safety Team, even spotting problems from shore
  • Driving the power boat
  • Training
  • Boat maintenance
  • Fund raising
  • Admin tasks
  • Become part of the Committee

As well as informal “on the job” training, we are running the RYA’s Volunteer Logbook Scheme which is a recognised system to help your progression as a valued Sailability Group Member, and to develop your skills. It is necessary as part of this to embark on various training courses; most of which we run at the club, for example Disability Awareness Training, First Aid, Safety boat training, and various levels of Sailing Instructor courses. It is not compulsory to do this.

We take the safety of our sailors and volunteers very seriously and have an Operating Manual which outlines our procedures and requirements. If this is of interest to you, this can be downloaded here.
Without our great team of volunteers this group cannot operate. We have ambitions to offer this experience to more disabled people. For this we need more volunteers, please!

If you would like to volunteer please download and complete the Volunteer Registration form.pdf and return to [email protected]

Volunteer from David Durston on Vimeo.

elpful instructionpresentation

safety crew

youngster in dinghy

power boat instruction

powerboat training


Sailability @ Whitefriars Season Ticket

A Sailability @ Whitefriars Season Ticket entitles subscribers to book 1 hour sailing slots at our Wednesday or some Thursday sessions, and any Sailability supported events, for example the Club regatta.

Sessions will run from 10am to 4pm between April 5th and October 19th.


A 2023 Season Ticket will cost £70

A Single Session Ticket for visiting sailors will cost £10

Whitefriars Sailing Club (WSC) members may sail during Sailability sessions; however, a time slot must be booked if Sailability equipment or assistance is required - there are no additional fees.

We are no longer offering Free Taster Sessions.


This will be four sessions on a Wednesday, and three on a Thursday. The last session on a Wednesday afternoon will also offer Race Training for those who sail in our HANSA 2.3s and 303s.  Thursday mornings are reserved for our School and College Groups.


10:00 – 11:15                       

11:30 – 12:45                      

1:00 – 2:15               

2:30 – 3:45    (Including Race Training until 4:00)


10:00 - 11:30 (School groups)      

12:00 – 1:30 (School groups)       

2:00 – 3:15

Whitefriars Sailing Club Membership

The Club aims to be fully inclusive, and welcomes the participation of people with disabilities in all club activities. As with any other member, an accepted level of competence must be achieved for people wishing to sail outside of Sailability supported sessions; typically RYA level 2 or equivalent. WSC offer memberships for individuals, families, students, and juniors.  As a WSC member there is no additional fee for Sailability.

For membership of Whitefriars Sailing Club Click here


Group visits can be arranged. Please contact us to discuss - [email protected]


Volunteers do not have to join Whitefriars Sailing Club, or purchase a Sailability Season Ticket in order to help with Sailability sessions. If you’re interested in volunteering, please contact us at [email protected]

Download and complete the Volunteer Registration form.pdf and return to [email protected]


For more information please contact:

Sailability mobile (Sailability days are Wednesday & Thursday) 07751 549828
Clubhouse 01285 861670
or David Durston 07745 504482

or email [email protected]

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