Project ‘Vela sem Barreiras’, launched by the Olympic sailing coach and professional sailor Diogo Barros, is designed to promote the practice of this activity to people with disabilities or reduced mobility through a boat designed and built in Portugal.
It is the first catamaran-type boat in the world, developed for this purpose, with all the construction and safety requirements to carry up to 10 people, including four wheelchairs. It was launched by the company BBDouro and has the support of Associação Mutualista Montepio, the official sponsor of this project, which is based in Douro Marina, in Vila Nova de Gaia.
The catamaran is located in an adapted sailing center with regular activities coordinated with the Cooperatives of Education and Rehabilitation of Citizens with Disabilities (CERCI) and similar institutions, through a partnership established with the Municipal Council of Vila Nova de Gaia. It runs throughout the week, with an average of four weekly outputs for the various institutions associated with the project, and other activities that may take place in parallel.
Antonio Tomás Correia, president of the Montepio Mutualist Association, believes that this is “a truly inclusive and innovative project that allows sailing to be extended to a universe of people who did not have easy access to this modality. to this initiative, which is part of our policy of social responsibility and which, because of its characteristics, deserves our full support and respect. ”
For Diogo Barros, a sailor and founder of BBDouro, “the sail allows the development of varied capacities for people with disabilities such as the confidence and autonomy sufficient to overcome difficult situations that may arise in the day to day.With technical adaptations in boats, it is possible to access a modality that offers multiple opportunities for realization and integration of knowledge in various domains “.
BBDouro, through the BB for ALL brand, also intends to extend its mission to make sailing more and more accessible to the entire population, including tourists. “We will promote the affordable tourism product as a ‘life changing experience’ to those who visit Portugal,” says Diogo Barros.
The prices are around € 30 per person, for groups of five or more people and blocks of two hours.