In the early 1990's, well-known Vancouver yacht designer, Don Martin, was engaged by Sam Sullivan, founder of Disabled Sailing Association of BC, to design a keel boat specifically for sailors with disabilities. Sam wanted a "high-quad sailboat."
The result was the creation of the Martin 16 sailboat. The first vessel was produced by Martin Yachts Ltd. in 1995 and the company continued to manufacture and distribute the boats through 2001. Martin Yachts produced 58 Martin 16s that bolstered accessible sailing programs across Canada, the United States and as far away as Japan.
In January 2003, the Disabled Sailing Association of BC (which had been granted the marketing and manufacturing rights to the boat) struck a marketing agreement with Steve Alvey of Calgary, owner of Inventure Management Ltd. At the same time, the manufacturing was turned over to Abbott Boats Ltd. of Sarnia, Ontario.
Steve Alvey was an enthusiastic proponent of the Martin 16 and was successful in seeing another 55 boats sold, including a number to sailing programs in Europe.
This was a very successful arrangement until tragedy struck on June 17, 2006, when fire destroyed the Abbott manufacturing plant. The Martin 16 moulds were lost in the fire. Insurance issues ensued and prevented a hoped-for quick return to production.
In 2009, seeing that the future of the boat was in peril, the Disabled Sailing Association of BC was able to secure funding for the creation of a new set of production moulds. These were made by Platinum Yachts Ltd. of Vancouver, which produced two more Martin 16s before the manufacturing was assumed by Campion boats of Kelowna.
In early 2013, KAPE Boatworks Inc. of Mississauga, Ontario approached the Disabled Sailing Association of BC with a proposal to take full control of the marketing of the Martin 16; in turn KAPE partnered with Yves Sansoucy of Mystère Composites in Mirabel, Québec to manufacture the boats.
The agreement between KAPE and the Disabled Sailing Association of BC stipulates that KAPE will pay a royalty on every boat sold to the AbleSail Network of Canada (www.ablesailnetwork.com) an overarching organization formed to support all accessible sailing programs in Canada.
Sailor Brent Foote checking out a plywood mock-up of the Martin 16 with designer Don Martin. (1995)