Quick Facts

Physical Impairment – Limb loss, hand with nerve damage in fingers
How acquired
Chemical explosion
Date of Birth
October 31, 1955
Oatley, NSW
Imports luxury catamarans
Started Competing
First Competed for Australia
Games Experience

London 2012


NZ Yachtsman Peter Blake

Career Highlights

Competing at the London 2012 Paralympic Games

Greatest Moment

Winning the first race at London 2012


Sailing out of Cronulla Sailing Club since his youth, Jonathan Harris never anticipated that at 56-years-old, he would be heading to his first Paralympic Games at London 2012.

The time spent gracing the waters of Sydney’s Sutherland Shire was used to great effect and Jonathan was delighted when asked to join the three-person keelboat team for the 2012 IFDS World Championships in Florida.

Together with teammates Colin Harrison and Stephen Churm, Jonathan placed fourth in Florida and finished only two points off a silver medal; his greatest achievement until he was selected to compete for his country at London 2012.

Following Australia’s success at the London 2012 Games, Jonathan and the sonar crew made up of Russell Boaden and Colin Harrison competed at the IFDS World Championships in Ireland and came home with their first medal, a bronze. In October 2013, the trio were named as Sailors of the Year with a Disability at the Yachting Australia awards.

Jonathan was 16-years-old when he was fooling around with chemicals obtained from his high school science labs. While screwing a lid on a jar of flash powder, the jar exploded and he sustained injuries to both of his hands. A self-described “nerd” who hung around science labs after school, he says there was no one to blame but himself and is grateful to have come out mostly unscathed.

Though sailing became slightly more difficult following his amputation, he continued sailing many different dinghy and keelboat classes throughout his life.

In 1983 and 1985 he raced in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, a distance of more than 630 nautical miles and in 2002 made his debut in the Sonar keelboat for Australia at the World Championships in Holland. His training and development has intensified in the meantime to bring Jonathan up to world beating speed.

When the grandfather of one isn’t training, his life still centres around boats. Jonathan imports luxury catamarans through his own business, and with his teammates in Perth, Jonathan is able to successfully juggle his work and sailing commitments according to their schedules.

Having always lived on the coast, Jonathan has developed a sustained attachment for all forms of sailing as well as an interest in cycling and skiing.

While he is often accused of having high expectations, it hasn’t stopped him setting his sights on winning a medal at Rio 2016.

Sports & Disciplines

  • Sport: Sailing Disciplines: 3-Person Keelboat (Sonar) Classification: 6