House debates

Monday, 22 October 2018

Statements by Members

Symonds, Mr Christopher

4:07 pm

Photo of Justine KeayJustine Keay (Braddon, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Lake Michigan in the US is a far cry from the humble Inglis River in my electorate on Tassie's north-west coast, but that's exactly where Wynyard local Chris Symonds made his mark recently, competing in the 2018 Para World Sailing Championships, where he took out the men's single-handed Hansa 303 dinghy class race convincingly and brought home gold and the world champion title. Chris is no stranger to success and has picked up numerous titles over the years in both para events and open competitions, which include predominantly able-bodied competitors.

Chris suffers from Kennedy's disease, a rare and progressive genetic condition which affects mobility and speech—but he doesn't let that hold him back. Once he hits the water, he has proved himself to be a threat to whomever he is racing against. Chris personifies true north-west coast grit and spirit. He is not able to walk 10 metres unaided and has limited strength in all areas of his body due to the effects of Kennedy's disease. But the correct equipment and support network around him mean that he is able to achieve outstanding results. I congratulate Chris and his team on this wonderful result for local sailing and I commend the Wynyard Yacht Club, Chris's home club, for their continued work in making the sport inclusive to people of all abilities. I had a wonderful time last year when I went out with Chris on the water in his special Hansa boat. It is certainly something that I could not compete in.