By Kyra Gillespie
Lakeside’s all-ability floating pontoon jetty is now officially open to the public.
In partnership with Sailability Victoria, the floating jetty is designed to enable wheelchair users to participate in sailing.
The official launch of the jetty, held on Friday 10 November, saw attendance from an array of guests including former Cardinia Shire Mayor Brett Owen, Bass MP Brian Paynter, Lakeside Sailing Club members and renowned disabled sailor Krista Bailey.
Lakeside Sailing Club Commodore Stewart Baker said he was “on top of the world” to see the jetty finally open after struggling for years to obtain the permission and grants for the important installation.
“The council are extremely proud of Stewart and the club for achieving this goal,” former Cardinia Shire mayor Cr Brett Owen said.
“They encountered a lot of hurdles along the way.
“The council supports access and inclusion for all.”
Mr Paynter was particularly excited about the facility saying it was “truly remarkable”.
“I’ve been a Pakenham boy since 1970 and never in the world did I think it would ever have its own sailing club.
“As someone who was on the board for Outlook Victoria for 16 years, access for all really strikes a chord for me.
“Stewart has shown that there are rewards for persistence. This is truly one of the great stories.”
The special guest for the day was well-known disability sailor Krista Bailey whose sailing career highlights include the title of Victorian Disabled Sailor of the Year in 2009 and Sailability’s role model for Yachting Victoria’s Go Sailing and Boating program.
Krista first got into sailing after it was recommended to her in 2005.
“My case manager suggested I try out sailing and at first I said ‘no way’,” she said.
“I had never been on a hoist and I didn’t think I could do it.
“After about my third time sailing I was ready to go on my own, I just love it.”
Twelve years on and Krista has competed all over Australia and the world.
She now volunteers at the MYC Sailability Program as a way to give back to the sport that has given her so much.
“I took a little girl sailing who was completely blind.
“When I first asked her to sail with me she said ‘but I can’t see’. To that I said ‘I can’t walk and I can do it’.”
Krista believes the jetty is an important step to making sailing an entirely inclusive sport.
“It’s just amazing to see the jetty here.
“Some ramps are so steep but this one is perfect for wheelchair users.
“I hope this gets more people on the water. There are a lot of people with disability who don’t want to try getting on the hoist, but it’s really easy.
“You just have to think outside the box.”