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Inspirations Articles

Celebrating 25 years of adapted sailing with AQVA

Celebrating 25 years of adapted sailing
Fay Schipper standing with the Martin 16 that was named in her honour at the Chalet Baie-de-Valois in Pointe-Claire on September 10. Photo: Éric Gouin
Montreal - Thursday, December 8, 2022

by Wendy Singer

The Quebec Adapted Sailing Association (AQVA) celebrated its 25th anniversary at the Chalet Baie-de-Valois in Pointe-Claire on September 10. The warm and jovial evening included mingling, speeches, a delicious array of food, the honouring of volunteers and one incredible surprise.Celebrating 25 years of adapted sailing

Fay Schipper (left) and Paula Stone standing with the AQVA's new sailboat. Photo: Éric Gouin

A volunteer-driven organization, AQVA provides people with physical and/or sensory disabilities the opportunity to enjoy the sport of sailing and the freedom it brings with it. 

AQVA founder René Dallaire, president of the board of directors Pierre Richard, executive director Geneviève Prévost, vice-president Paula Stone and volunteer Éric Gouin took turns talking about AQVA and its volunteers. 

The surprise highlight of the evening came when attendees were asked to look out the window into the parking lot. There rested a brand-new Martin 16, a Canadian sailboat designed specifically for people with mobility impairments, with the name Fay Schipper written across its hull. 

“I was ecstatic when I found out that the boat was dedicated in my name. This type of thing doesn’t happen every day!” said Schipper, who has been involved with AQVA since its inception in 1995. At that time, she was working as volunteer coordinator at the Mackay Rehabilitation Centre. She was instrumental in the planning of the AQVA’s Mobility Cup regatta in 2000, and had previously been honoured by the organization when they named the Coupe du Québec regatta winner’s trophy the “Fay Schipper Cup.” Stone explained that the executive committee chose to honour her in a more visible way on the occasion of their 25th anniversary.

“One of Fay’s biggest contributions to the beginnings of AQVA was the use of her incredible ability to motivate people,” said Stone in her speech. “She effectively used her talents to recruit at least 20 of her colleagues to volunteer. AQVA would never have taken off as it did without the contributions of all of these volunteers.” 

“Twenty-five years later, the AQVA is still sailing in the wind. We never imagined that it would grow to become what it is today,” said Schipper. “I feel proud that we started this and that so many people have been able to enjoy the sport because of it.” 

Fay Schipper is also Inspirations’ volunteer database coordinator.