Thought you couldn’t sail? Think again!

Whitefriars Sailability Group have the facilities, support, and boats that can enable people to sail whether you have profound disabilities, or if you are not as mobile as you once were. Visit the sailing page to understand how this is possible.

It is through a dedicated team of volunteers that this is made possible. Our volunteers find it extremely rewarding to enable people to enjoy the freedom, independence, and exhilaration of sailing. You don’t need to sail to help! Visit our volunteering page to see how you can help.

“I find it really rewarding and humbling to help to make it possible for people with such challenges to get so much enjoyment from taking to the water.”

“Sailing at Whitefriars gives me an opportunity to escape and enjoy the beautiful Cotswolds countryside from the water.”

“Racing gives me such a buzz. It’s a combination of strategy, tactics, and boat handling. I sometimes forget that I’m disabled.”

“I find it really rewarding and humbling to help to make it possible for people with such challenges to get so much enjoyment from taking to the water.”

sailing boy

empty wheelchairs


The Sailability group operate from April through October, every Wednesday and some Saturdays, providing specialist support. Whitefriars Sailing Club welcome the inclusion of people with disabilities, and 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.


Our boats are different to more conventional dinghies; some 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. 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, in fact some of the fleet have a heavy keel which mean that the boat cannot capsize.

Facilities and equipment

We have a large purpose built pontoon which is accessible and stable for wheelchairs, or for those with walking difficulties. One of our two hoists is securely fitted to this, the other is situated on the shore, but reaches out to comfortably position sailors in the dinghies. We can provide slings, but if you have your own that you’d prefer to use, that is no problem.
The club has a supply of buoyancy aids that you may use if you wish.

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 a loo for the disabled. Unfortunately we do not have specially adapted changing facilities.
The clubhouse and sun terrace sits in the middle of a peninsula, providing panoramic views of the lake. There is a fully fitted kitchen, and snacks and drinks are available. The club has an active social calendar, including regular bbqs.


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, then could you please complete this form, or contact David Durston


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 require hoisting, they are there to help you position the sling and to guide you into your seat.
If you need care, it is necessary to bring them with you to help with dressing, medication and any other personal needs. Our volunteers will still provide advice and assistance where required, for example 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.
We take your safety very seriously, so on your first visit you will be asked to complete a form to gather basic information about your condition and medication. So come prepared.







Volunteering at Sailability@Whitefriar 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!

elpful instructionpresentation

safety crew

youngster in dinghy

power boat instruction

powerboat training


Sailability @ Whitefriars Boat Hire Season Ticket

A Sailability @ Whitefriars Season Ticket entitles subscribers to book 1 hour sailing slots at our Wednesday sessions and any supported events, for example the Club regatta. Sessions will run from 10am to 4pm between April 3rd and October 16th. The cost for this year will be £50. To apply for a Sailability Season Ticket click here for a .doc or a PDF.

Sailability @ Whitefriars – Have a go

For people who would like to try sailing without committing to the season, you may visit for a free taster session, and have 3 one day sessions for £15 per visit and then make a £5 final payment to receive a Season Ticket if you’d like to continue.
Please contact us to book a session -

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. Click here for membership of Whitefriars Sailing Club. The joining fee will be waived for people who are purchasing a Boat Hire Season Ticket. Inform the membership secretary when applying
Sailability @ Whitefriars Boat Hire Season Ticket
The cost of specialist equipment can prevent people from participating outside of Sailability sessions. If you can sail independently or with a buddy, you can purchase a Boat Hire Season Ticket and use a Challenger or Hansa 303, provided that there is adequate safety cover. This means that you can get involved in everything that Whitefriars has to offer. Click here to apply for a Boat Hire Season Ticket:


Group visits can be arranged. Please contact us to discuss.


Volunteers do not have to join Whitefriars Sailing Club, or purchase a Sailability Season Ticket in order to help with Sailability sessions. However, if you would like to sail independently, membership options should be considered.


Guests are welcome to come and see what we do, but must be signed in by a Club Member.

Sailability @ Whitefriars meet every Wednesday from 3rd April through to 16th October 2019.
Sessions can be booked at least a week in advance through Louise Rounds You will be able to book a one hour slot on the water – starting at 10am, 11.15am, 12.30pm and 1.45pm.
At 2.30pm there will be a session for those who are keen to develop their racing skills, starting with a half hour classroom based teaching session, followed by an hour on the water from 3pm until 4pm.

You are welcome to come and try sailing on any of our Sailability days, just contact us in advance. There is a lock on the gate, and it would be useful to have some understanding of your needs.

Upcoming events

Friday 26th April: Introduction to racing/developing racing
If you’d like to book a place on this race training day, please contact Louise Rounds as soon as possible as places are limited.
Saturday 27th April: Hansa TT Regatta ( with support for novice racers )
Come and see a competitive Open Event, with visiting sailors from all over the country at the HANSA Open. There are Hansa boats available if you’d like to compete. Click here for the Notice of Race (NOR) & Entry form
Sunday 12th May: PUSH THE BOAT OUT day
Please get friends and family, with or without disabilities, to come and have a go.


For more information please contact:

or David Durston 07745 504482

or email

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