The BYS Sailability program is run entirely by volunteers and began in 2002 after the club recognised a need to provide a sailing opportunity for those who might not otherwise be able to experience sailing. Geoff and Eily Watson volunteered to get the program started and recruited a number of member and non-member volunteers to help out. The first boats used by the BYS Sailability program were Access 2.3s which were borrowed from Yachting Victoria.

After a great response towards the BYS Sailability program from the wider Mornington Peninsula community, BYS decided that it would make sense to expand the Sailability program. Again, under the guidance of Geoff and Eily supported by a team of volunteers, the program began to develop and with significant sponsorship, BYS Access 303’s were obtained. The BYS fleet of Access 303 boats has now expanded to eight, most of which have been donated by BYS members.

The early days of Sailability we not easy, with the boats having to be pushed out onto the jetty on a big trailer and hoisted in and out of the shallow water one at a time. The current fleet is stored on pontoons in a marina berth, with the masts and furled sails stored in large tubes nearby making launching much easier. Brian Jones is the current Sailability coordinator and has been for the past 12 years, he is supported by a team of passionate and dedicated volunteers. Brian says “Sailability rewards the volunteers because they make sailing possible for people who might not otherwise have access to the sport”.

Sailability 303s
Over the years, the BYS Sailability program-driven completely by volunteers has successfully met its objectives by establishing an inclusive sailing program, this was recognised formally in 2020 when awarded the Australian Sailing Victorian Inclusion program of the year!

In 2022, BYS is celebrating 20 years of a successful Sailability program and would like to say a huge Thank You to all of the volunteers who have contributed to the success of the program over the years, it would not have happened without every single one of you! And here’s cheers to another 20 years of the BYS Sailability program.

Sailability operates every Tuesday and most weekends during the holidays, if you would like more information, please contact Brian on 0466 273 874 or email [email protected]

There is also a wonderful short movie ‘BYS Sailability – 303 have a go’ that can be viewed below.