This weekend Ireland’s first-ever wheelchair accessible powerboat will be launched at Kinsale Outdoor Education Centre.
The new boat, a Coulam Wheelyboat V20, is specially designed for disabled users and will allow children and adults who visit Kinsale to powerboat for the very first time.
Although there are nine Wheelyboats already across Ireland, this is the first and only V20 model in Ireland, making it one of a kind.
The new boat is provided by UK-based charity The Wheelyboat Trust, who to date has supplied nearly 200 accessible powerboats across the UK and Europe.
It will be unveiled this weekend in Kinsale at the at the third annual Watersports Inclusion Games.
The new powerboat is named ‘Saoirse’ and will be launched on Friday by Denis Leamy, CEO of Cork Education and Training Board, the Mayor of County Cork Councillor Christopher O’ Sullivan and Jon Hynes, Director of Kinsale Outdoor Education Centre.
The launch will take place ahead of the Watersports Inclusion Games, which will see over 500 people descend on Kinsale for a water-fuelled weekend of fun, offering attendees the chance to sail, kayak, stand up paddleboard, surf and of course powerboating using the new Coulam Wheelyboat V20, Saoirse.
Jon Hynes, Director of Kinsale Outdoor Education Centre, says: “Inclusion and accessibility are two words synonymous with Kinsale Outdoor Education Centre and what we offer to our users. We aim to ensure all our programmes and activities are open to all, and this year, a new chapter is unfolding."
"We’re thrilled that we can now offer our disabled users the chance to powerboat for the first time, and we hope that Saoirse will continue to be a positive spirit after the Watersports Inclusion Games, spreading our mission and aim to make the waters around Kinsale accessible to all.”
Designed by Andrew Wolstenholme and developed by The Wheelyboat Trust and JM Coulam Boatbuilders, the Coulam Wheelyboat V20 is 20 feet long and 7½ feet wide. It has an open, spacious and level cockpit, with roll-on, roll-off access via a watertight bow door that lowers to form a ramp, allowing easy access for wheelchair users.
Its drive-from-wheelchair console also enables people with the severest of disabilities to drive the boat themselves. It has a high-powered Suzuki engine, with a brand new DF100B outboard, boasting 100 horsepower and top speeds of 30 mph and above.
Over recent weeks, Jon and his staff have been conducting sea trials and staff training in order to be ready for this weekend’s Watersports Inclusion Games. In particular, users from the Rebel Wheelers and the Irish Wheelchair Association have participated in some sample trips ahead of the launch, which were thoroughly enjoyed by all.
Jon concludes: “It’s certainly an exciting weekend for watersports in Kinsale, and no doubt all in attendance will enjoy the Watersports Inclusion Games. Once the event has concluded, Saoirse will serve as reminder to all that there is a place for everyone to enjoy access to the water, especially now in Kinsale with our new Wheelyboat.” The Coulam Wheelyboat V20 was generously funded through the Sports Capital Programme. Kinsale Outdoor Education Centre’s relationship with Cork Local Sports Partnership has also been instrumental in the development of awareness of the new boat’s existence, as has their new association with UK-charity the Wheelyboat Trust. Without the support of these organisations, getting a Wheelyboat in Kinsale would not have been possible.
The Wheelyboat Trust relies on the support of individuals, companies and charitable organisations to fund its activities. Donations can be made in a variety of ways including online at www.wheelyboats.org/donate.html. To find out more about The Wheelyboat Trust, visit www.wheelyboats.org and for more information about Kinsale Outdoor Education Centre, visit https://www.kinsaleoec.com/ .