Helena Horswell is a sailor, a past world and national champion as well a volunteer that gives her own time to make sure others can go racing. To be able to sail her boat she needs the assistance of electric motors and custom made controls. As these systems are as unique as a sailor’s disability, they can be extremely expensive as they are custom made – and even paying the high price tag doesn’t guarantee a workable solution if the engineer building the system does not understand sailing.
DTA engineer Neil Easton, an avid sailor and past New Zealand representative in the sport, answered the call for help, when Helena’s commercial system stopped working only weeks before the 2018 Hansa Liberty World Championships in Hiroshima, Japan in October. “It took 20 seconds to decide to help develop a new control system for her to take to the regatta.” Volunteering his own time, many late nights and focused thinking later Helena has a brand new system to help her get to the next level on the world stage.
I waited nervously all day last Thursday to see if the gear would work on her first sail, when I got the call and heard Helena’s happy voice at the end of the line that was the best payment ever.