Skip to content

21 Years of SWD Website in Collaboration with UTS


To celebrate the first Winds of Joy sailing program for children with disability in Hobart, a major milestone in the history of the organisation, today Sailors with disABILITITES is launching a unique, digital archive of its first 21 years: 21 Years of SWD.

This digital history of SWD was created in collaboration with five UTS students who participated in the UTS Shopfront Community Program as part of their final year studies in design, a compulsory program in which all UTS design students must participate.

21 Years of SWD Home Page


How did this collaboration come about?

Between July and October, 2015, the five students, Thomas Ricciardiello, Elle McCalman, Sophia Lau, Tania Andriasian and Vincent Salinos, worked intensively with Deb Sandars and other SWD volunteers to sort through two boxes of print materials that were discovered during a “cubby cleanup” in May 2015.

Hoping to transform this valuable documentation showing the evolution of SWD into something meaningful, but also realising the challenge of sorting through thousands of printed photographs and clippings over the years, SWD applied to the UTS Shopfront program last June and were delighted when they were accepted for the three month project.

L-R: David Pescud (SWD founder), Sophia, Elle, Deb Sandars (SWD Vice President), and Tania, sorting piles of SWD archive materials at UTS

David Pescud, Deb Sandars and Sophia, Elle and Tania sorting materials at UTS


“It was a fabulous journey in time to sort and view SWD history whilst being an extraordinarily rewarding experience working with five highly talented and enthusiastic students who framed, designed and delivered this brilliant project for SWD, which records our history and our future,” said Deb Sandars, who led the project on behalf of SWD with the students.


What is the Shopfront Community Program?

"The Shopfront Community Program connects community organisations with skilled student teams to deliver on community led projects. Most projects are carried out by students in their final year of undergraduate studies, or in their postgraduate programs, through their subjects. The process is collaborative: students and community groups are involved in all facets of the project's development and implementation, and the process is usually overseen by academic supervisors. As well as enabling community organisations to build on their expertise, the Shopfront Community Program allows UTS Students to gain valuable experience in a professional environment, and to see alternative career paths into the community sector." via the UTS website.

As part of the project, students experience an Immersion Day with their project team. All five students joined a Winds of Joy program, recording the experience with SWD volunteers and the participants who came on board for the Winds of Joy experience. They were also involved with the Sydney to Sydney world-record-setting event, as shown in their project video, below.

Students filming a Winds of Joy program from the companion boat on their immersion day, following WOT EVA to get a sense of what SWD does and its impact.

Students filming from the companion boat on immersion day

Up close with WOT EVA as the team film from the companion boat on immersion day

Up close with WOT EVA and the BEE5 team on immersion day


Socially Responsive Design and UTS

In preparation for launching this work today, SWD spoke with Claire Pettigrew, Student Engagement Coordinator for UTS Shopfront Community Program, and SWD's main point of contact for the program, about this project. Claire said:

"This project was an amazing collaborative effort that has produced a rewarding and exceptionally high quality result. The spirit of openness, curiosity and genuine commitment that came from both SWD and from the student team allowed the project to be a real collaboration.


The student team were able to flex their creative muscles and deliver a project that used design thinking to challenge the conventional idea of an archive to really bring to life the richness of SWD’s history, and in the process build a piece of work they can truly be proud of.


UTS Shopfront is extremely proud of the student team, and grateful for the support of academics Sarah Jane Jones and Nicky Hardcastle. Working at the nexus between community need and teaching and learning, Shopfront is happy to have been able to broker and support this project through the subject Socially Responsive Design."

On the Winds of Joy immersion day: showing what collaboration between community, the non-profit sector and educational sector can do.

Staff and participants on board on immersion day showing what collaboration can do

The Students

For everyone involved with this project at SWD, it was a pleasure and privilege to work with the incredibly dedicated staff at UTS and all five students who demonstrated a range of skills, personal attributes and talent that exceeded anything SWD imagined when submitting its application for this project. The five students on this project team, who had not worked together previously, were selected by UTS staff who matched students' abilities with the need of the organisation and project. It could not have been a better match as the outcome and ongoing connection has shown.

The BEE5 team, the official name the students gave themselves for this project, here reading and sorting materials at UTS: clockwise from Vincent (back left), Sophia, Tania (back right), Thomas (front right, Project Leader and contact for SWD) and Elle (next to Thomas). Click links to see students' own web pages.

Five students sorting the materials


SWD asked one of the five students, Thomas Ricciardiello, about his experience in this project. Thomas said:

"In an educational sense, the project pushed me in two completely different ways: in understanding the social context of our country and world in relation to people with disability and how they are perceived, as well as finding a way in which the story of SWD can be told in relation to this context. Having never heard of the organisation before, I gained a fundamental amount of knowledge of their history and behaviour in relation to our current social situation and expectations, and finding ways to tell their story of defiance and perseverance.


SWD taught me to just go for it. If it’s in your heart and you feel strongly enough about it, it can happen. It’s just a matter of application, attitude and perseverance. The worst approach you can have to any sort of activity, project or goal is a bad attitude; hands down, it’s toxic.


While I’m comfortable in the web space, it’s not my forté, but I was honoured to be able to work with such talented peers to build a comprehensive, accessible and enjoyable exhibition of SWD’s history. We hope that we’ve given their inspirational story the platform it deserves to be told and that it will go far in expanding their presence to greater communities, finding new volunteers and allowing the Sailors with Disabilities team to continue doing this crucial work. Thank you David, Deb and SWD for the opportunity. Best wishes to you all."

Vincent, left, and Elle, right, on Immersion Day for their "making of" video.


While he did not race in the 2015 RSHYR, Founder, David Pescud, is in Hobart for the launch of both Winds of Joy Hobart and the 21 Years Website.

David said, "When you see the enterprise of these young Australians, their commitment, passion and purpose, I feel Australia’s future is in good hands. The fun we’ve all had putting this together—old people, young people—the process itself has been inspirational for all of us involved in it.


21 Years of SWD, the website, symbolises collaboration. Whether a charity or a business, collaboration is the key to change, growth and success, more so if you depend on volunteers to grow and deliver programs, as SWD does."

When asked about the appropriateness of launching the site while working on Day 2 of the first ever Winds of Joy programs in Hobart, David said:

“Indeed, Hobart is what started it all in ‘94. Now, more people are volunteering their time, ideas and effort to guarantee SWD’s future, a future underpinned by collaboration, which I think was also ably shown in this stunning website and represents what SWD is about. When I recall the 1994 Sydney Hobart and how far we’ve come, I can’t help but wonder where we will be in 2037.”

SWD volunteers John Whitfeld, the Skipper of the recent RSHYR for SWD, and board member Jim Igoe, also a crew member in the recent RSHYR, with Winds of Joy participants during UTS students' immersion day on Sydney Harbour.

SWD volunteers and Winds of Joy participants during UTS students' immersion day on Sydney Harbour


Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

SWD’s patron, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, said, of SWD’s progress as an organisation championing people with disability:

“I have seen for myself how Sailors with Disabilities provides hope, reassurance, and adventure to disabled and disadvantaged children up and down the east coast of Australia.


When they are out on the water, they are not just experiencing the joy of sailing, they are changing their perceptions of themselves, building self-confidence and learning that they do not have to be constrained by physical limitations.


It is a remarkable milestone for SWD to have completed its 22nd consecutive Sydney to Hobart race. They compete against able-bodied crews and more often than not finish near the top of their division. It confirms for all of us that disability is a state of mind, that passion and determination will triumph no matter what the circumstances.”

 SWD wishes to thank the Prime Minister and his team for taking the time to comment for this launch event.

SWD crew on WOT EVA finishing the Sydney to Sydney Event

Finishing the Sydney to Sydney Event


Watch the Making of Video here (click to open in a new window) or simply click play on the video below.

This video was made by the students as part of their final presentation for the project. It's worth watching and sharing. 


A tip for viewing the 21 Years web site

When you land on the page, you can choose to "read the story" from 1994 through to 2015, or you can browse the history, year by year, to see how SWD's story unfolded by clicking on "view the archive" from the home page. You can also change the font by clicking the "cog" icon on the top-right hand corner of the "Read the story" page. This enables people with vision challenges to better access and read this content, one of the criteria set out in the project brief. 

Change the view and font at top right

Toggle the view and font at top right


What this Project will do for SWD

This project will preserve valuable materials for future generations of the SWD community, while illustrating the story of the organisation. This can help generate interest in SWD, value for the work that has gone into getting SWD where it is today, the importance of sponsors and supporters over time, and help steer SWD toward new horizons and partnerships.

In a broader community sense, it shows everyone involved that working together with a diverse range of skilled stakeholders, and empowering youth to understand the needs of society through educational initiatives such as UTS's Shopfront Community Program, is one solution toward positive social change.

Here are some final words from Elle and Tania, two of the students who worked in this team:


Elle: "My experience with the whole SWD project was so amazing and inspirational. I found it so interesting, which really made me want to be involved and share the story with others. To be surrounded by such inspirational people just made the experience of the project that much more engaging and exciting. I would always find myself wanting to know more about David and the amazing stories that he has about himself, the crew and their journeys. To be completely dyslexic, and have the knowledge and understanding that he has, completely blew my mind. I think there were a lot of jealous people at UTS who also wanted to be a part of the experience we were given.

I came out of the project not only having a true interest in sailing and all the amazing stories that I heard, but also a strong relationship with David, Deb, Gayle and all of the SWD crew. Taking the kids out on the boat was an eye-opening experience and one that I will remember for a long time. To see the joy and happiness that they got out of it just makes you realise how this can become a lifestyle.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone that was a part of the experience and made us feel so welcome and part of the family. If you haven't yet being involved with Sailor with disABILITIES, I strongly advise you to take part. The more the merrier as I was always told, and the view of the harbour is not bad either."


Tania: "Story telling, history, endless laughs and a sprinkle of design. I have learned and experienced above and beyond what I imagined, and I have SWD to thank for that."


Elle up front on the companion boat following WOT EVA for filming on immersion day.

Elle up front on the companion boat following WOT EVA for filming on immersion day

If you like this story, please share it on your social media pages. Thank you!

Again, a huge thank you to all the students involved. This work is extraordinary. You can view the students own web pages here: Vincent, Sophia, Tania, Thomas and Elle .


Share this with your friends

Making Waves Foundation test

Social Links