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Tauranga man overcomes 'years of blood, sweat and tears' to continue sailing after life-changing disability

A Tauranga man has overcome "years of blood, sweat and not quite tears” to continue sailing more than a decade on from an incident that left him with a life-changing disability.

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Bryce Dinneen says adversity comes with opportunity. Source: Seven Sharp

Bryce Dinneen, a keen fisherman, was made a tetraplegic following a shallow diving accident 13 years ago at the age of 29.

“Just misjudged it, bang, at the end of it, fractured C2, 3, 5 and 6 cervical vertebrae and left me a C4 tetraplegic,” Mr Dinneen told Seven Sharp.

Despite staring down an uncertain future while recovering at Christchurch's Burwood Spinal Unit, Mr Dinneen never gave up on his dream of one day building a large boat for Kiwis with "illness, disability and hardship".

"The first time he rolled in here full of passion for what he wanted to do,” Kim Bertelsen, a boat builder at Alloy Cats, said.

“Sun on the face, wind in the hair, saltwater in the lungs… Chuck [the fishing line] out there and if you catch a fish, it's a bonus but quality time with good people out on the water - you just can't beat it, mate," Mr Dinneen added.

Project manager Ray Lowe, a close friend of Mr Dinneen, helped design an electronic fishing rod to allow him to fish.

"It's never been about Bryce - it's been about seeking and helping others," he explained.

Mr Dinneen spent nearly 10 years raising the $2.5 million needed to make the boat, dubbed Wish 4 Fish.

It was completed following grants from the Lotteries Commission, the Lion Foundation and the Grassroots Trust.

“It’s surreal every day, mate. Honestly, it's so surreal,” Mr Dinneen said.

”It’s going to be a boat of amazing smiles."