Above photo: Far right, Paul on 3-person Sonar in Rio 2016
Nova Scotia’s Paul Tingley talks leadership and building momentum for AbleSailing
By Jennifer Barnable
Paul Tingley needs no introduction in the AbleSailing world. A five-time Paralympic medalist, he is considered one of the world’s top solo competitors in the sport. His deep involvement with SailAble Nova Scotia since the mid-90s and, later, service on the AbleSail Network Canada board of directors paved the way for his 2020 election as AbleSail’s chair.
A LEADER’S VISION FOR ABLESAILING
In this role, Paul brings his own unique skill set and perspectives, providing leadership and building relationships with stakeholders from coast to coast. The goal: increasing awareness of and participation in adapted sailing programs to offer Canadian sailors with disabilities.
“Based on my experience with disabled sailing and what it’s done for me in my life, I passionately believe in it. I want to share the experience with others and make sure that others are aware that this opportunity is available to them.”
Paula Stone, AbleSail Vice-Chair, believes Paul is an excellent choice to lead the organization. “Thanks to his natural leadership style, long experience with disabled sailing programs nationally, and competitive sailing worldwide, Paul is well equipped to build and strengthen key relationships for the AbleSail Network. We’re excited to see him continue with our organization’s efforts to expand capacity and offer our programs to more sailors with disabilities.”
BUILDING BRIDGES TO CONNECT (AND SAIL UNDER!)
Paul’s approach is centred around building relationships and believes in quality over quantity when it comes to AbleSail programming. “Leadership-wise, I listen to get all perspectives to better understand the challenges we need to tackle. I like to be a man of action with a drive to get things done.”
He continued, “My plan as chair is to continue striving to reach our goals and continue building on the strong foundations we’ve established. We already have an incredible program to offer, so we simply want to continue enhancing it. I’m keen for us to leave AbleSailing better than we found it.”
Paul is keen to build upon AbleSail’s strong relationship with Sail Canada, while working towards pressing needs in 2021 and beyond. “We’ll certainly continue to advocate for the life changing experience that AbleSailing is, while also working to always put safety first and reduce any risk to our sailors. This goes hand in hand with training our sailing instructors and volunteers.”
Another area of concern for the new chair is the rising insurance costs that sailing clubs face to participate in this short-season sport. “We need to work together to lower those costs by working together to secure a group plan that makes para sailing more accessible. This is a key priority for us. It’s an enormous obstacle that we are tackling together for the betterment of the sport.”
ADAPTED SAILING IS FOR EVERYONE
“Adapted sailing really is for everyone,” Paul insisted. “We have the technology to accommodate every ability and need that a sailor has so that they can be truly empowered. If you have a powerchair, there are boats with a joystick for steering. There’s a coach or companion at the back of the boat for assistance, guidance and safety. You will be safely and fully supported while para sailing.”
With AbleSail Network’s national programs, participants have the choice of going out for the experience as a passenger or as a sailing student learning from an instructor. Without pressure, sailors can set the goals for their AbleSail experience. “This is the most inclusive para sport there is, because it does accommodate all different abilities,” Paul assured. “Once you’re on the water with all the necessary adaptions set up, you become just the same as every other sailor on the water.”
Given the impact the para sailing community has had on Paul’s own life, and the transformations he has witnessed in program participants over the years, Paul is passionate about sharing the AbleSail experience with as many others as possible. He’s confident that new sailors will enjoy it, based on his experiences with participants over the years.
“Apart from the thrill of challenging yourself, there’s also a sense of peace and tranquility you’ll feel while floating on the water. It takes you to another place, away from everything — worries, stresses and anxiety. If you enjoy new experiences and learning, there’s so much to dig into with AbleSail programs because you’re truly learning something new every day: the wind, the currents, how to navigate and build up your skills with confidence each time you get in the boat.”
TAKING A LEAP OF FAITH
“I want people with disabilities to know that you have to try AbleSailing before you dismiss it. “Don’t be intimidated — you’ve got to try it,” he insisted encouragingly. “Our instructors and volunteers have tremendous experience and training to make AbleSailing a safe environment for you.”
He continued, “I understand that it’s a leap of faith. I want people to just try it once — get in the sailboat and judge the experience for yourself. Then you can decide whether para sailing is for you or not.”
Paul himself quickly discovered that sailing was for him when he first tried — fast forward to today and he’s now the coach of the Canadian 470 sailing team, that competed at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo this year. AbleSail Network is incredibly grateful to have his expert guidance, championing the organization’s pursuits and vision.
ABLESAIL SPONSOR CONTRIBUTIONS GO THE DISTANCE
AbleSailing relies on the generosity of donors, sponsors and partners who believe and invest in the far reaching benefits of AbleSail Network’s programming.
“We recognize the tremendous support of our current sponsors — and we know they, as well as future sponsors, have a lot of choice when it comes to charitable giving. Contributions to AbleSail Network are not taken lightly,” Paul shared. “We are skilled at strategically enhancing programs and maximizing the dollars donated so that we can continue to offer Canadians safe, high quality para sailing experiences.”
“As a recognized organization with a national reach, funds raised and gifted help engage our sailors with disabilities from coast to coast. We’re always very open to sharing, partnering and collaborating to engage more sailors in AbleSail’s programs.”
Paul continued, “We’re grateful for our strong relationship with Sail Canada and provincial sailing organizations, and we look forward to reaching out for conversations with future donors and stakeholders.”
To start a conversation with the AbleSail Network national board or to make a charitable donation to help support our non-profit programs, contact Paula Stone at AbleSailNetwork@gmail.com or visit https://www.ablesailnetwork.com/en/donate.