Sip & Puff History

The idea for “sip & puff” controls for a sailboat came from Sam Sullivan, a quadriplegic and founder of the Disabled Sailing Association. Sam had seen high-quads operate their wheelchairs by sip & puff, and envisioned that this technology might be used to control a sailboat.

The world’s first sip & puff control system for a sailboat was designed by the Neil Squires Foundation (Vancouver, Canada) and installed on the Sunbird sloop “Royal Spirit.” The Royal Spirit debuted at the Mobility Cup regatta in 1994.

The sip & puff technology was refined and adapted to the new Martin 16 sloop in 1998 under the “Royal Bank Project.” The Disabled Sailing Association of Alberta with the financial support of Royal Bank Financial Group managed this project.

Steve Alvey brought a volunteer Project Team together, several companies donated parts and equipment, and a robust, self-contained system was designed and hand-manufactured to meet the needs of high-quad sailors.

Steve Alvey (INVENTURE MANAGEMENT LIMITED) and Mark Isaak (MIDS) have continued to develop the system’s functionality and reliability, culminating in the Mark IV system presently available.

Scroll to Top