Research and Development

Sailability Wellington has always on the lookout for suitable yachts, equipment and facilities that will assist our sailors with disabilities and our support crew.

This has included a number of projects, including:

  • The construction of a multilevel ramp and jetty as a clip-on to the wharf at Evans Bay Yacht and Motorboat Club.
  • Containers fitted out for storage of up to 6 Hansa 303’s which can be easily transported, designed by Richard Grocott with help from others.
  • Stacking frames for our Hansa 303 yachts, a concept of trustee, Michael Harrison.
  • Alloy Centreboard trolleys with pneumatic wheels designed by Steve Wade.
  • The development of an expended jetty with ramp and floating pontoons to serve our members from the Porirua district.

For the last five and a half years, we have been fortunate to be able to lease a sizeable workshop at Seaview marina with the kind help of Hutt City Council and Pelorus Trust. In this workshop, we repair and refurbish our yachts and produce all our supporting equipment.

It’s known as the Mariners’ Shed

Our workshop Is inclusive and welcomes volunteers (female and male) willing to follow core safety standards. Our maintenance crew also includes some of our sailors and volunteers. Other helpers come from the Wellington Woodworkers Guild and Naenae Men's Shed. There are lots of different jobs to do - you don't need experience or a knowledge of boats. Just enthusiasm, some common sense, and a willingness to drink some coffee and chat about boats!

ParAble-Whakatauki - A new class of Yacht

Sailability Wellington is proud to be developing ParAble-Whakatauki’ a new class of sailboats for people with disabilities. Currently, most Sailability groups in NZ and overseas sail HANSA 303, which can take a maximum. weight of 160kg. We are increasingly finding this payload is insufficient for some of our ‘sailor + crew’ combinations. Some of our sailors are also progressing to a point where they are seeking the challenges of a more advanced yacht.

It’s a salient point that this new class of yacht, which will be known as ‘ParAble–Whakatauki’ will be more than ‘nice to have’, as we expect this build project will be the basis of solving a worldwide sailing problem for people with disabilities.

The ParAble-Whakatauki Class yacht will have significant features to benefit the intended users.

  • They can be launched from a simple beach trolley.
  • They can carry a payload of 240kg.
  • A self-draining cockpit is incorporated.
  • Individualized seating can be included.
  • Can be sailed in either 2 sails or 3 sails configurations
  • Can be used both for racing and for those learning how to sail

The Design Team

Initial ideas for this new class of yacht came from the Tuesday Seaview volunteers, led by John Rushton It needed to be able to carry a payload of 240kg and be suitable for learning to sail, as well as racing. It had to be self-righting and self-bailing. And the whole yacht needed to be able to be launched from a beach trolley. It was no small ask!! We searched world-wide to see if such a yacht existed or indeed could be built at a reasonable cost. Our CEO, Don Manning has been the leader of the project since its inception and admits he has been helped by many of our sailors, volunteers, as well as designers, sailmakers, riggers and so on…..

Kevin Cudby

While mast, rig and sail design were to be important, having a suitable hull was the first crucial consideration. We were fortunate to have the skills of Kevin Cudby available. He took considerable time and effort to provide our team with a custom hull shape, designed by using advanced 3D modelling tools including the kspline. Kevin is a designer, Technologist, Writer, and Editor with many years of experience in the field of all aspects of maritime endeavours.

The Prototype/Mould Plug.

Don Manning took on the job of making a jig from patterns supplied by Kevin Cudby and building the first prototype ParAble-Whakatauki hull from strip planked Western Red Cedar. With the help of the crew of Carboglass, the hull was sheathed in fibreglass, - inside and out. It was prepared with simple hull supports, deck structure and seating. With a rig and sails provided by Seaview Saila and Rigging, it was launched and tested on the 30th of June 2019. That prototype hull became the plug for a mould to enable fibreglass hulls to be produced.

Carboglass, a composites construction company in Wingate very generously manufactured and provided the hull mould of our yacht to Trust. In the process of doing this, we discovered the complicated requirements of internal hull structures, deck, foil and requirements and eventually the regulations of World Sailing to register the class.

Bruce Askew, a renowned NZ yacht designer was consulted at the beginning of the operation to give advice on whether our goals were achievable. He visited our Evans Bay Sailability program, watched our yachts sailing, and upended them to view the hull shapes. He said it could be done, but it wouldn’t be easy. He was rightly not sure if he was to gift his time to a build program, that we would follow it through. With a lifetime of designing yachts and launches, Bruce had a very good understanding of all the requirements of yacht design. He agreed to be involved, - and without Bruce, we would have been floundering far more often than we did! We certainly tried many ideas that didn’t work, but we learned valuable lessons from every one of them!

Bruce was with us all the way along the process. He was gentle with his advice, when he could be, and told us quite firmly when we had included aspects that wouldn’t meet World Sailing protocols. He was thoughtful, creative and yet ready to make compromise.

Tory Channel Contractors

The team at Tory Channel Contractors were incredibly generous with their space, materials, knowledge, and staff time. With an enormous amount of consultation with the Sailability Wellington team including Warren Rankin, Darrell Smith, Don Manning, and others including Chris Sharp, A former Paralympic sailor, and of course the wisdom of Bruce Askew, the project moved apace. A hull structural former was designed, as well a cockpit, seating, deck mould and a self- bailing capacity. They constructed two complete hulls for us, and we will be indebted to them for a long time to come. The hulls were brought back to Seaview for fitting out and finishing. The Sailability Wellington sailors and volunteers then spent countless hours completing the yachts and testing them. Having tried several rig and sail designs, we chose to work with both Tim Willetts from C-Tech and Andrew Brown from Doyle sails who share a common computer design package.


None of this could happen without money and space. Seaview Marina, Hutt City Council, Pelorus Trust, Pub Charity, the Lotteries Commission, and a raft of other well-wishers came to the party with contributions, including a total of over $300,000 in financial donations to develop this new specialised sailing craft.

The boat of the future

We now have two ParAble-Whakatauki boats and are looking forward to hosting a regatta with them in 2023. There is already considerable interest in ParAble-Whakatauki, including from several NZ Sailability branches and groups in Australia and the Pacific region. ParAble-Whakatauki is now Trademarked to Sailability Wellington, and we are working to establish ParAble-Whakatauki as a new ‘designer- class’ to be registered with World Sailing.

And we haven’t finished yet! How good would it be to be able to manufacture 6 identical ParAble- Whakatauki Class Yachts to form a national class? We have this in our sights and will persist till the job is done.