I had the privilege of participating as a companion sailor in the Mobility Cup at Ashbridges Bay
Yacht Club in Toronto in August. This was my second Mobility Cup and as before, one of the
highlights of the season for me (That ride on Il Mostro was pretty damn sweet too.) The racers
are divided into gold and silver fleets. Gold for the more experienced sailors and silver for those
new to the sport. In gold, the companions are optional and are only there for safety. In Silver, the
companions can coach a little…OK, a lot. ( I was reprimanded more than once for trying to hike.)
Given than it would be virtually impossible for me to keep my pie-hole shut, I was assigned to
the silver fleet.
I sailed with my new friend Kevin Rogers. When he’s not working as a consultant on mobility
issues, Kevin is also into scuba diving, gliding and, oh yea, he’s a quadriplegic. We were racing
in the Martin 16 fleet. The 2.4 Meters were there as well as some funky little boats from
Australia. ABYC did an incredible job.
Our boat was tricked out with a cool electric windlass and steering system so Kevin could control
trim and steer with the little mobility he has in his left hand. He’s also got enough mobility to
hold a beer after the race although, if I remember correctly, he prefers Scotch. I tried steering
with the toggle between races and it ain’t easy. There’s no feel and there’s a huge tendency to
over-steer. Kevin did a masterful job. He came in third out of nineteen boats in the silver
So what did I learn?
Have you ever finished a race grumpy? Who hasn’t? Well Mobility Cup sailors
haven’t. They are thrilled to be out of their chairs and on the water enjoying what many of us take
for granted. As you cross the finish line, cheers emanate from the spectators, the race committee
and the athletes themselves. Between races, the competitors sail around congratulating each other and offering encouragement. When there’s an altercation on the course, both competitors
apologize and try to learn from it. Protests? Yea, right. It was a humbling experience and a lesson
What else did I learn? I learned not to go drinking with Dudes (and Dudettes) in wheelchairs.
They don’t fall over!
For results and more info, check out: www.mobilitycup.com.