“Sailing is different in every country” – ETR

Thibeau Bastien is 22 years old. He is a sportsman from Belgium. He is very good at sailing. In 2013 he joined Unified Sailing Belgium. This is an organisation that puts together people without disabilities and people with intellectual disabilities who want to sail.

“Sailing is different in every country”

Click on a word which is in blue and bold to read what it means.

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Thibeau Bastien is 22 yearold. 

He is a sportsman from Belgium. 

He is very good at sailing. 

In 2013 he joined Unified Sailing Belgium. 

This is an organisation that puts together  

people without disabilities 

and people with intellectual disabilities  

who want to sail.  

Thibeau does sailing competitions with Matthias. 

Matthias is his “sailing buddy”. 

Thibeau has been European champion twice. 

He also won gold at the Special Olympics World Games  

in 2015 and in 2019.  

The Special Olympics World Games are 

sport competitions for people with intellectual disabilities  

from all over the world. 

Thibeau also works as a university researcher 

for the project My Talents. For Diversity”. 

This project support 

people with intellectual disabilities 

in finding a job. 

We did an interview with Thibeau 

to talk about sport and education. 

Here you can read what he said: 

You are very much into sailing.  

How did you get interested in this sport?

started sailing with my parents  

when I was still a baby.  

We have a boat  

and they took me along their trips  

from a very early age. 

How did you decide that you wanted  

to take part in competitions? 


Unified Sailing contacted my school. 

They asked if they knew students  

who were good at swimming.  

My teachers told them about me 

Together with my parents 

I went to get to know Unified Sailing.  

I liked it very much and I decided to participate 

From that day,  

I have been sailing almost every weekend.  

In 2014, I asked Matthias Van der Auwelaer 

to be my buddy.   

I knew him because 

we did some of the same competitions together. 

Who does what when Matthias and you sail together? 


Matthias controls the sails  

and gives me navigation orders.  

I am the navigator.  

This means that I direct the boat. 

Matthias and you have won a lot of important prizes. 

Is there any race that you remember more than others? 


I remember one race in Abu Dhabi  

during the World competition. 

Abu Dhabi is a city in the United Arab Emirates. 

During the race 

we were very close with another team.  

The other team’s boat hit us. 

I was a bit scared. 

But in the end, everything went fine. 

Sailing is different in every country.  

For example, in Switzerland you can go sailing 

in a lake that has mountains on all sides. 

This is great.  

I also love sailing in Mallorca. 

Mallorca is an island in Spain 

The sea is so blue there. 

It is beautiful. 

You were elected as “Yachtman of the Year” in 2015.  

How did it feel like to get this award? 


It was a huge honour to get this award  

as someone with intellectual disability.  

It was also important  

because more people got to know 

Unified Sailing and Special Olympics Belgium.  

Now you work as a researcher  

for the project “My Talents. For Diversity”.  

What do you do in this job? 


I contact companies  

who employ people with intellectual disabilities.  


I ask them for an interview  

and to do an online survey.  

I contact them by mail and phone. 

My favourite part is interviewing people. 

Usually I am the one who is interviewed. 

But in this job, get to ask questions. 

really like that. 


After the Special Olympics World Games, you spoke with Kris Peeters. 

Kris Peters was the Belgian Minister of Economy and Employment. 

You talked about the project “My Talents. For Diversity”. 

What did you tell him about the project? 


I explained the entire project to Kris Peeters 

He was very interested because this is a European project.

What did he say? 

He wanted to know more about it 

We made an appointment for a meeting  

to talk more about it. 

Why is it important that people with intellectual disabilities 

can go to university? 

It is important because if they go to university 

they have a chance to get a job in a company.

What can people with intellectual disabilities teach students? 

People with intellectual disabilities can teach students 

that it is interesting to work with people like me.  

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