Useful sailing

All together against prejudices

Published on 18 july 2017 at 0h00

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An exceptional patron

November 1990 – a youngster was enjoying the sights on the pontoons at Pointe-à-Pitre, in Guadeloupe. Damien Seguin was just 10 years old when he saw the first boats from the 4th edition of the Route du Rhum arriving.  “I remember very well the arrival of Mike Birch. He was fourth,” he recalls.  “I imagined he would be furious, but no, he was imperturbable, stoical. I met him before the start of my last Route du Rhum, in 2010, and told him about this episode. It made him laugh.”

From this event the main theme of the young man’s life was born. Because he wanted to ‘do like the famous sailors do’, Damien Seguin asked his parents to enroll him on a sailing course. From year to year, he climbed the ladder and had a few convincing successes among the youngsters in the dinghies (Optimist and Laser), then two-up on catamarans (Hobie 16 and Tornado).

Born with no left hand, Damien discovered paralympic sailing in 2002. “I was knocking on the door of the French ‘able-bodied’ team. Paralympic sailing was not at all developed on our coasts. I said to myself that I could do something in the singlehanded 2.4 keelboat. It’s a very technical boat with lots of adjustments. Perfect for my temperament.”

Results: The Olympic title in 2004, then the silver in 2008 and three World Champion titles (2012, 2007, 2005). In 2006, he wanted to race in the Figaro, but the organizers refused his entry for so-called safety reasons. Finally he won the case, and finished 32nd out of 44.

In 2010, he tackled the Route du Rhum, and finished 10th, then 8th in 2104.

He is now sailing aboard a Diam 24, the trimaran ‘Team Fondation FDJ - Des Pieds et des Mains’, for the 2017 season, with the high spot being the Tour de France à la Voile.

The association

Every day, many disabled children face a real obstacle course when trying to realize their dreams, as was the case for Damien. His career as a top level sportsman is the perfect example of this, and proves that a project held dear should not be abandoned due to reservations linked to disability. It is also the proof that for a company, a disabled person is not a handicap. And via this association, he increases the actions aimed at making disabled people aware that their place is among able-bodied people, and not on the fringes.

The way disability is viewed must be changed; this is the aim of the association, which organizes introductions to sailing for disabled people, as well as for the general public, at several stages of the Tour de France.


‘Des Pieds et des Mains’.

The association is developing its action around four main areas:

-       promoting Handivoile

-       giving grants to Handivoile sportspeople

-       developing accessibility for disabled people in the sailing clubs

-       creating a support group around Damien to assist and develop his sporting and human commitments.

For more information: www.despiedsetdesmains.fr

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