Three questions for Olle Hansen

Three questions for Olle Hansen, Captain and project manager on the accessible catamaran and racing boat Handicat.

You’ve got a beautiful sailboat. Tell us the story behind it!

I've always had a desire to do the same things as if I didn't have a disability. My parents had a sailboat when I was a kid. My disability limited me when it leaned. I got a tip from a guy to test the catamaran because it doesn't tilt. I tested and was completely sold !! This would be my concept. I also wanted to communicate to others with disabilities, that it is possible to sail despite limitations.

Swedish Catamaran and Trimaran sailors, the Sports Association for All the Disabled and Fryshuset started the foundation Handicat ("Disabled people can sail Catamaran") in 2006 and sought contributions from the Heritage Foundation. We got the funds, bought a used Catamaran in England, renovated and rebuilt it. We started sailing with guests on June 5, 2007, and to date we have sailed with about 5,000 people with disabilities. We have achieved the project's goals, but now we are putting the effort into spreading the message so that more people will test it and get the same sense of freedom that I dreamed of and experienced.

How do I get to sail on Handicat?

You don’t have to have any experience before. Just go to www.handicat.se and check the calendar if a date that suits you is available. Book by entering names etc. Gather a bunch of friends to make it even more fun. The price is 400 SEK (approx 40 EURO) / person.

What is the best thing about sailing for people with motor impairments?

THE FREEDOM at sea, not to be limited. Being able to get out into the archipelago and get close to nature and feel the forces of nature. Get a nice tan!

Funka recommends
One of the employees at Funka's web editorial team has sailed with Handicat and can only agree with Olle: it is an amazing feeling and it works just as well to sail whether you are in a wheelchair or standing up. Everyone on board can participate, anyone who wants to can learn a lot about sailing and also that mobility barriers need not be limiting. Ideal for team building, summer party, as an empowerment exercise for increased awareness of what real accessibility means - or just to enjoy the world's most beautiful archipelago.

There are similar sailing opportunities in many other countries too.

Have a nice summer!

Handicat website (in Swedish), opens in new window