At Expo 86 British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher donated a British made Sunbird sailboat to Rick Hansen in honour of his Man in Motion tour. In 1989 Rick presented the boat to Sam Sullivan, a Vancouver quadriplegic who subsequently developed and used it to found the first disabled sailing association in Canada. In 1997 the Sunbird sailboat was replaced by the specially designed and Canadian made sailboat the Martin 16. Since then many disabled sailing organizations have been started across Canada.
The AbleSail Network (ASN) is a cooperative association of operators and participants in accessible sailing programs across Canada.
In 2006 ASN was conceptualized and through a government grant a feasibility study was done to determine if there was a need for a national organization.
A website was created for:
- sharing and collaborating between ASN member programs
- providing a permanent library to archive shared documents and resources.
ASN became the custodian of the Mobility Cup Regatta and hosted Symposiums for sailors and program directors.
ASN bylaws were finalized, the organization was incorporated and in 2011 a new board of directors was elected at the Annual General Meeting.
In April 2012 ASN obtained charitable status with Canada Revenue Agency.