The Spirit lives on as Gosport-based catamaran sails again

REPAIRED Spirit of Scott Bader, the Disabled Sailing Association's yacht sails into Portsmouth harbour after being repaired. Inset, the yacht after it capsized
REPAIRED Spirit of Scott Bader, the Disabled Sailing Association's yacht sails into Portsmouth harbour after being repaired. Inset, the yacht after it capsized
Picture: James Davidson

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NEARLY a year ago the Spirit of Scott Bader, a disabled charity’s yacht, was left without a mast and ruined sails after she capsized in the annual Round the Island race.

But today everything is ship-shape again after a £100,000 refit.

BEFORE The yacht after it capsized

BEFORE The yacht after it capsized

And now the Disabled Sailors Association is getting ready to take people back out on the water.

The Gosport-based charity feared for the future of the yacht after the accident, but has been able to get her seaworthy again in time for her 10th anniversary.

The catamaran, which was designed and built by the charity, was leading her class in the race last June when she capsized in shallow water after hitting a submerged object.

Fortunately no-one was injured in the incident – everyone was rescued safely by members of the Seaview Yacht Club who had been watching from the shore 500 yards away and were able to get to the crew quickly.

The stricken yacht was towed back to Royal Clarence Yard in Gosport before being moved around to Wicor Marine in Portchester.

Co-founder of the association Mike Wood said: ‘Everything is so expensive.

‘We had to repair all the electronics because everything was waterlogged and of course the boat is heavily computerised, so it all adds up very quickly.

‘The insurance company was brilliant. I was so impressed. They sent someone to come and have a look at her and they paid up £90,000.

‘We ended up raising about £26,000 on top of that and we have received support from a number of charitable trusts, so we have been able to modernise it and improve on what we had before.

‘It was a real team effort doing all the work refitting her and a pleasure to see her moving again.

‘The yacht allows a person in a wheelchair to actually sail it by themselves.

‘It’s fast and nimble and a delight to sail giving disabled people who usually get fobbed off with inferior equipment a real sense of pride and achievement.’

Mr Wood added: ‘We have taken it out on a test run and it’s perfect.

‘We’ve got about 1,500 people waiting to use it this year already.

‘A lot of people know what happened, so there’s been a lot of interest in taking her out when she’s ready.’

Among the first to use the refitted catamaran will be school children taking part in the Rotary Clubs Kids Day Out in Chichester Harbour and the Portsmouth Whizz Kids, a club for seriously disabled people.

For more information go to disabledsailing.org