Nava - "Anything is Possible"

by Pam, Nava's Carer, 
written 2002

Nava is the first ventilated sailor in the world to sail solo.

Nava, who has just turned 21, was born in the Cook Islands and came to Australia aged one. She was involved in a motor vehicle accident at 4 years of age, and since then has been totally ventilator dependant. She fractured both C2 and C3 vertebrae and is paralysed from the neck down. She spent eighteen months hospitalised before release to 24 hour registered nursing care at home.

Nava is an extremely intelligent, vibrant and caring young woman who doesn't know what it means to give up. She attended Concord Public High School and attained her School Certificate, and since then has gone on to complete two T.A.F.E. accredited arts courses with the aim of eventually attaining a graphic arts degree. She is an extremely talented mouth artist.


She first became aware of sailing and the existence of Sailability Australia during a vacation, but because of her dependency on a ventilator, didn't believe it was possible for her to sail. After follow up with Jackie Kay (from Sailability and Access Dinghy Foundation) and Chris Mitchell (Access Dinghy designer and builder), her dreams came to fruition in October 2000 with National media coverage launch of "Pantha" and her first experience at doing ANYTHING totally unaided by nurses or carers.

This was her first truly independent activity since the accident that was to change her life completely and forever, & the sense of freedom and achievement it's given her is immeasurable.


In February 2001, after just four months of sailing experience, Nava competed in the International Access Dinghy C'ships where she came a commendable 8th in the Open Division sailing against experienced able bodied sailors. She was presented an Encouragement Award by the then Governor General, Sir William Deane.

Then in October 2001, Nava flew to Florida and competed in the North American Access Dinghy Championships. She was accompanied by four carers and her father. Nava won gold and silver medals.