Thadeus is designed for the purpose of getting into and out of sailing dinghies for disabled sailors safely, independently, with more ease and dignity. Thadeus is a portable, light weight, easy to use and manufacture, inexpensive, device, that gives the sailor a genuine chance of more freedom and greater independence. Thadeus works on the simple principles of hydraulics and movements. By incorporating the two, a sailor can make a safe transfer from their wheel chair into and out of their sailing dinghy. Whilst lowering themselves the Thadeus’s seat allows the legs to extend with the simply designed two hinged panels that push out at the same time as the seat lowers allowing the sailors legs to be placed into the dinghy once the seat has been fully lowered. For reversing the process, the principles remain the same, from sliding across the dinghy to the Thadeus and by pumping the handles in a forward motion, the Thadeus seat will come back up level with the wheel chair.
Time spent working at Sailability Centres ‘accessibility,’ or lack of, clearly became an issue needing more attention. The transfer of the sailor into and out of a sailing boat currently presents a major challenge. The aim of this project was to improve the appeal of sailing for the disabled to a wider and more inclusive range of people by addressing ‘accessibility.’ The inspirational concept of ‘’Universal Design’’ remained a pivotal factor to the project. The Hoist-the preferred method at centres for accessing a dinghy is time consuming, expensive, and crucially removes independence from the sailor. The portable Thadeus gives the sailor far more independence as well as not having to rely on assistants and facilities that a club, or centre, may, or may not have. Thadeus incorporates the “Universal Design” concept, therefore sailing stands to gain the leading edge in sport for “all-inclusiveness” and without doubt offers great possibilities to those who often find themselves excluded.
The preliminary stage was building an outline model of a Martin 16 (a universally designed accessible sailing dinghy) this gave a better understanding to the dimensions from all angles needing to be addressed. This became a test rig for all further models. Test models had to be made, all with just small incremental changes until the final idea that was to become the Thadeus, emerged. All models were full size and tested in the environment; thus enabling clear analysis that led to further improvements. Relentless testing with sailors who had disabilities proved vital. Feedback was critical to final success. From the start a number of sailing clubs bought into the concept with enthusiasm and encouragement. They offered their facilities, dinghies and pontoons. This networking forum of disabled, sailors, proved invaluable in order to set the parameters, get dimensions, stability and movement development, to conclude with a user friendly, practical device aiding accessibility – Thadeus.