Andy Cassell, inset, and out on the water during Cowes Week.
THE IW’s most decorated paralympic sailor, Andy Cassell, is aiming to launch a new scheme to nurture the next generation of paralympic yachtsmen in time for the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.
Andy, 70, who scooped a gold medal at the Atlanta Paralympics in 1996, is launching the project which will be jointly run by the Andy Cassell Foundation, which supports disabled sailors, and the Cowes Corinthian Yacht Club and the Royal Yachting Association (RYA)
Andy, of St Mary’s Road, Cowes, revealed details of his new scheme to the County Press as Britain gears up to stage the Paralympic Games from Wednesday.
He is also involved in the 2012 games and sits on the RYA Paralympic Steering Group selection committee.
Andy, who was born with no lower limbs, began competing in dingy racing when he was just nine years old. During his youth, there were no disabled sailing competitions and he competed against able-bodied yachtsmen.
He continued making superb progress and when he was 18 took part in national championships, still sailing against able-bodied competitors.
At the age of 21, he was heading for the able bodied 1964 Olympics but due to a lack of funds, missed out on taking part.
Andy’s passion for yacht racing meant he became a sail maker and went on to win many major championships and also competed in the 1975 Admiral’s Cup and the ill-fated 1979 Fastnet race.
Disabled racing at Olympic level began in the mid-1990s and Andy won both world and European Champion-ships before competing in the Atlanta Paralympics in 1996, where he won gold for Great Britain in the Sonar class with Kevin Curtis and Tony Downs.
He used the publicity to good effect to set up the Andrew Cassell Foundation for disabled racing.
He has been married to his wife, Sue, for 12 years. He has a daughter, two grandchildren and three step-children.
Andy praised the paralympians and particularly the sailors who would be taking part in the games.
He said: “It is amazing. If you are a disabled sailor it is not only life that is a problem, you then have to start picking yourself up to compete.
“Some of these guys who are in wheelchairs are pretty amazing people.”