The new ‘disabled-friendly’South African-designed S\V14 yacht has earned endorsement from world-renowned adventurer Skip Novak.  The S\V14 was conceived by a ‘dream team’ of nautical talent, involving naval architects Alex Simonis-Maarten Voogd, former RCYC commodore Russell Vollmer, and marine certification stalwart Peter Jacops. The project, which originated in Thailand where Jacops is based, was officially launched earlier this year at RCYC amidst widespread enthusiasm for the design concept which promises to make sailing more accessible to people living with disabilities.  The vessels are built by Shanghai-based Fareast Yachts and are proving popular, buoyed by their affordable price.

In his endorsement Novak said the vessel embodied “the spirit of inclusivity and equal opportunity in the world of sailing”

“The S\V14 is not just a vessel; it’s a symbol of empowerment, inclusivity and a commitment to breaking down barriers,” the concept team said in a press release issued in October. “It is not only a game-changer in terms of accessibility, but it’s also a sporty, visually striking, well-crafted, and remarkably affordable boat,” Novak said.

The project features prominently in the latest RCYC newsletter, which gives an overview of how it came about: “Peter Jacobs, Alex Simonis and Russell Vollmer were sitting at a table on the terrace to discuss the design of a cost effective boat for people with disabilities to sail. Sailing had been dropped from the Paralympics and Jacobs, who now lives in Thailand, saw that they had similar problems to what we have in South Africa. Simply put, cost effective yachts for people with disabilities were not very easy to come by.  The boats that were out there were expensive and mostly based in Europe. He put out a challenge to design a cost effective boat and Alex Simonis and his business partner Maarten Voogd volunteered to design a boat free of royalties, which keeps the price down. That was the initial concept of the boat,” reads the article written by Liesl King.

Vollmer, himself a disabled sailor, said a key ambition is  to ensure the boat is as widely available as possible: “The idea is to spread sailing into countries where they don’t have unlimited bank balances,” Vollmer told King. “However, Germany has bought into this boat on a large scale. But we would like to get it in to more countries around us here in Africa. It is making its way into Asia and there is one or two in Eastern Europe that are starting to make inroads.”

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