Our Stories

Come and be introduced to some of our members and their stories.


Introducing Michael Jones- One of our Sailors


I became interested in sailing with the Britannia Sea Scouts. I joined Sailability Wellington in 2003, to develop my sailing skills, so I could sail independently.

I have learned to sail the Hansa dinghies and gone on to compete both in New Zealand and Australia, and won the National Championship in the Liberty Class in 2011, – beating both the Australian and World champions at the time.

Born with Spina Bifida I get around on a pair of crutches, and my other hobbies include spending time swimming and going to the gym.

I have worked hard at developing winning strategies on the water and hope will continue to compete at all levels as well as being a member of the race squad.   I help teach the new sailors who are learning to sail as well as taking out some of the sailors who enjoy our sport as a form of therapy.

I am a former trustee of Sailability Wellington and a former member of Yachting New Zealand’s committee for sailors with disabilities.

In 2007 I was fortunate to be the only New Zealander selected to sail a leg from Crete to Malta on the Gypsy Moth IV during its voyage around the world. It was a brilliant experience and I learnt a lot about sailing and working with people from other countries who had a mix of abilities and came from different backgrounds.


Introducing – Genevieve McLachlan, Sailor and Trustee



I first became involved with Sailability Wellington towards the end of 2008, after hearing a presentation by Don Manning at the Dowse Museum. After a couple of trial sails I joined Sailability Wellington in 2009 and have never looked back.

Born with Cerebral Palsy and a visual impairment, I use a combination of wheelchair and walking frame for mobility and have a guide dog.

For me, sailing is the closest I will ever get to the total freedom as I am unable to drive.

The only concession I need is to have a fully sighted person in the boat with me as I have no distance or depth perception so cannot tell how far away objects are from me. In 2010 I competed in my first Regatta in the Hansa Class 303 dingy. This was the Mighty River Power Regatta in Taupo, where I came first in my division.

I was then invited to join the Race Squad, which I did. In 2011 I competed in Hansa Nationals in Napier where I came second in the 303 Doubles. I subsequently competed in the Hansa Nationals in Auckland in 2012, Waitara in 2014 and Wellington in 2015.

I am a Trustee of Sailability Wellington, and outside sailing I enjoy swimming, cycling and going for long walks with my dog. I run my own business, Adaptive Technology Solutions, where I provide flexible technology solutions for people with disabilities. I also belong to Toastmasters to become a more confident public speaker.


Meet Dean Apps – One of over 50 Volunteers

I was born, raised and educated in Canada, – emigrated from there in 1987 on a temporary work visa, and am now in my “28th year of a 3-year contract”.

I have been a volunteer with Sailability since 2008, when it operated only from Evans Bay on Fridays and Sundays with a fleet of three 303’s and 3 Liberty dinghies. I claim no credit for the growth in the fleet and the various community awards given since I joined, but have enjoyed seeing it happen!

I started sailing 35 years ago, when I was 30, having spent most of the previous years studying and earning a professional designation (actuary). I admit to falling in love with sailing on my first lesson.

Before I became a Sailability volunteer, I sailed on various craft. The smallest was a windsurfer on a ‘have-a-go’ day, and the largest was a 72-footer in the Global Challenge yacht race in 2004/5 which gave me more than 33,000 nautical miles of ‘bluewater’ sailing. I have also owned a couple of yachts, and even lived on one of them for six months.

No longer a boat owner, I get my regular sailing ‘fix’ through Sailability. As a retired person, I find Sailability is a perfect opportunity to get out and be part of the volunteer community, and meet wonderful people like the other volunteers and the sailors. My biggest buzz is when I see someone with a disability grinning from ear to ear after their first sail, or better still, when that same sailor has progressed to the point where they are able to sail by themselves. When that happens, I just think…“yay, job done”!