Visually impaired group takes to the waves with Sunderland Yacht Club

Alan Dixon, front right, from Sunderland Yacht Club, with members of the Visually Impared Wednesday Friendship Group from South Shields, John Metcalf, Kevin and Winnie Hope, Ivan Lunn and Owen Duffy, and fellow yacht club members Bob Elliott and David Robson.

Alan Dixon, front right, from Sunderland Yacht Club, with members of the Visually Impared Wednesday Friendship Group from South Shields, John Metcalf, Kevin and Winnie Hope, Ivan Lunn and Owen Duffy, and fellow yacht club members Bob Elliott and David Robson.

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A GROUP of visually impaired adults took to the waves with the help of Wearside sailing enthusiasts.

Sunderland Yacht Club invited the Vision Impaired People (VIP) Friendship Group to the city’s marina after learning about its work.

The South Shields-based self-help group has been running for more than 20 years.

Alan Dixon, commodore at the club, said: “We were introduced to the VIP Friendship Group by a member of the club and we thought that it would be a nice idea to invite them along go on the water.

“We were delighted to be able to offer this opportunity for a new experience for this group.”

The sport proved a huge hit at last year’s Paralympics in London, where blind competitors used the “feel” of the wind on their faces to guide them.

“We know from the Paralympics that visually impaired sailors compete at the highest levels,” said Alan.

“This was their first experience of sailing and we’re hoping they will really take to it.

“We wanted to take them out to sea and get them involved, maybe have a go at steering the boat.”

Retired engineer Ivan Lunn, 67, from South Shields, was among those who took the trip.

“It was a brilliant day,” he said. “It was the first time I’d been sailing before. It was a great experience.”

The club, which is based at the Old North Pier, runs a sail coaching programme, which takes place most Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons through the spring and summer, passing on skills in a safe environment.

Junior members learn using dinghies, with adults new to the sport also welcome to learn using the boats.

For more information visit www.sunderlandyachtclub.co.uk.