Cockburn: Polish sailors get boat out of storage for test sail


Polish Paralympians Piotr Cichocki, Gregorz Prokopowicz, Paul Harry (Jervoise Bay Sailing Club Commodore) and Cr Bart Houwen. Picture: Jon Hewson
Polish Paralympians Piotr Cichocki, Gregorz Prokopowicz, Paul Harry (Jervoise Bay Sailing Club Commodore) and Cr Bart Houwen. Picture: Jon Hewson

A BOAT kept in storage for the last few years has lured a Polish sailing team to Cockburn.

In November, World Sailing selected three vessels for use by athletes with disabilities at future events, hopeful they can help the push to have the sport reinstated at the 2024 Paralympics.

Sailing was dropped from the 2020 program, but did feature at the Rio games in 2016.

One of the three boats chosen for future events was the Weta trimaran, a light 14 foot vessel.

Keen to test one, Polish sailor Piotr Cichocki – a World Champion who scored fourth at the Rio Paralympics – and his coach Grzegorz Prokopowicz put the feelers out.

With their connections taking little time to come through, the pair was soon on their way to the Jervoise Bay Sailing Club at Woodman Point where a Weta owned by club member and Cockburn councillor Bart Houwen was waiting.

“We came here because everything was ready,” Prokopowicz said.

“We wanted to try it before we bought a new boat.”

The pair has been testing the boat’s suitability for disabled athletes after arriving on December 7.

Prokopowicz said early impressions were that it was a nice boat for beginners in light wind but might be bit difficult for all competitors, particularly those with limited use of their hands.

“I think it will be a great boat for people with minimum disability, but it’s a lot of work for one person,” he said.

“A lot of para sailors don’t have two hands, so it’s difficult.”

Prokopowicz will write to World Sailing with his final thoughts when the pair leaves Australia on December 23.

Cr Houwen said he was shocked when he received a call and a request to use his boat, which had hardly been used for the last two years.

“The first thing I thought was that it was convenient because I was just about to take it out of storage,” he said.

“But the visit reinforced my idea that the club is special – the best kept secret in Cockburn.

“There’s world champions based here and a constant flow of visitor from all over the world.”

Cr Houwen joked he would he would have a “finely tuned boat” when the pair heads back to Europe at the end of December.