Helena on cloud nine after trailer gift

00:53, Aug 23 2012
SMOOTHER SAILING: Greg Macdonald, Helena Horswell and Craig Taylor, left to right, admire the new custom-built trailer for Helena’s Servo boat.

A load has been lifted for world sailing champion Helena Horswell of Parakai.

The self-described thalidomide survivor is overwhelmed to be given a custom-made trailer to ease launching and moving her Servo boat.

A Helensville firm designed the vehicle to help Helena defend her world title in two years in San Francisco.

Managing director Greg Macdonald of Macbuilt was so inspired by Helena's success story in the Nor-west News on May 10 he offered to create the cart free.

"She's quite inspirational and needs a bit of support and we could and we did," he says. "Helena doesn't sit back. She moves forward and we wanted to help her achieve her goals."

The sailing champion asked Macbuilt for a quote in May.


This followed her world title against able-bodied sailors in the Access Liberty Servo class at the Access World Sailing Championships in Australia.

Helena won gold on her 50th birthday which she kept "under the radar" to focus on competing.

Now her new trailer, adapted for the Liberty's hull shape, will help her preparation for the next championship.

She can also go to other launching areas to boost her sailing knowledge and be challenged in different tidal patterns.

It took 40 hours for head engineer Craig Taylor to build the trailer which is worth about $4000.

"We made it longer and lower and user-friendly," Mr Macdonald says, "so Helena can get the boat on and off quickly and focus on sailing rather than trying to get the boat to and from."

After getting the phone call from Macbuilt, Helena says she floated down there on cloud nine.

"Sailing is my passion and my dream and I guess I struggle to see why I generate such good will from people. This means I can get out there a heck of a lot more and get more training done."

Her electric boat is now dubbed Hocus Pocus after a treasured children's story about a magician.

She chose the title "because a lot of people think it's pretty magic that people with disabilities can sail".

Helena was born with disabilities to her hands caused by the drug thalidomide given to her mother during pregnancy.

She springs surprises on other sailors as they glide past. "I wave my hand and they think there's something different about her," she says with a wry smile.

Ms Horswell is calling for sponsors to help her get to San Francisco.

Contact her on enuit@ xtra.co.nz to help.

Norwest News