On my latest trip to Chile, as I was traversing the Chilean coast, I got a chance to get a closer look at the revolutionary Hansa sailing boats.
The chance to closely examine these boats came during the ‘La Semana Vela Inclusive en Chile’ held at the Puerto Deportivo in Valparaiso. The port was open to all, and they had the chance to test out the Hansa 303 sailing boat. It was named as one of the new para world sailing classes. This was during a meeting of the world Sailing Council that took place in Barcelona, Spain during the 2016 Annual Conference. It means that the boat is now used in parasailing events as part of an effort to reintroduce sailing in the Paralympic Games of 2024.
Chris Mitchell’s Vision for the Hansa Boats
I was privileged enough to talk to Chris, the designer, and founder of Hansa boats. Chris told me that his vision was to create an entry-level boat that anyone can use with ease. It will make it possible for the disabled and able bodies to sail comfortably in all kinds of sailing conditions.
The boat is so easy to sail that there is a joystick version. It means that even the most physically limited can sail this boat by just moving a joystick. As a result, no matter the disability, anyone can become a sailor. The joystick is an electric control and electronic steering takes place after getting input from the joystick movement.
I really admire Chris’ vision to create a boat that any type of sailor can sail and do it competitively. He is quite passionate about it, and he genuinely believes his vision will work out.
My Experience with the Boat
Of course, I had to try the boat for myself, and I must say it was a lot of fun.
It is quite easy to sale, safe, and very comfortable. Its boom is set well above the head, which eliminates any risk of smashing your head in choppy waters. This is especially crucial for those with limited mobility that might not be able to duck fast enough.
For beginner sailors, whether disabled or able-bodied, this is the perfect way to develop your sea legs. The boat is responsive from the first minute you hop on, and you can begin concentrating on the wind. I fully agree with Chris’ assessment that this is the boat for everyone. There is almost no learning curve with it.
The event itself was great, and I hope to attend more such events in the beautiful nation of Chile in the future. I like that more people will be able to join the sport of sailing no matter their background. The boat is both affordable and can be used by the disabled. This means that sailing will no longer have to be a sport of the able-bodied.
Sailing is a lot of fun and a sport that anyone should be able to participate!
Hansa Sailing Boats
Photography Sébastien Rohner