Wheelin’ To The Worlds


Wheelin’ To The Worlds

With his win at the International 2.4mR Open Worlds over a field of 39 entries where almost 1/4 of the fleet were past world, country and paralympic champions, John Ruf, has just proven "There are no Excuses". John as a paraplegic has to do everything with is hands. That means at mark roundings when others can use foot steering to keep the boat moving in the right direction while easing and launching, he must steer, ease and launch at the weather mark and just the opposite at the leeward mark, all at the same time with his hands. For all you beer drinking rail whales who site on your big boats and think you are doing it……I suggest you shift your paradigm. There are "No Excuses" anymore. Maybe USS should give the 2.4mR a try for the "Championship of Champions" and let Johnny beat up on a few more. Thanks to the Edison Sailing Center, Diversified Yacht Services and MB Sailing for a great event.- Dawg

Opening ceremonies at the Worlds
John at the 2009 Opening Ceremonies
L-R Peter Wilson, Flag Boy, Carl Horrocks,
Betsy Alison, John Ruf and Team Dog.

SA:I think you are the first paraplegic to win the 2.4mR Open Worlds. What does this World Championship mean to you and the disable sailors around the world??

JR: I think you may be correct but there have been disabled sailors who have been the 2.4mR Open World Champions in the past, Nick Scandone (als) won in 2005 and Hieko Kroeger (forearm amputee) won in 2000.  I love sailing in "open" events best.  The 2.4 Metre should always be open to all.  I’m very honored to be on the trophy with so many great sailors.  I hope this regatta proves that the 2.4 Metre is a boat for all regardless of age, gender, or disability.  

SA: After the Paralympics where you won the Bronze and you must have been flying high, what did you do knowing that the worlds were coming to the US to prepare for a home court advantage??

JR: I’ve been thinking about the Worlds all summer and though I only got to sail twice before heading to Ft. Myers I was reading and thinking about sailing all the time.  Ft. Myers seems a bit like a foreign country compared to Pewaukee Lake.  I hope the next time the Worlds make it to the US we will have as many boats as my first Worlds in Tonsberg Norway (98).

SA: Tell us about your view of the competition at the Worlds??

JR: The fleet of 44 boats was deep and filled with World Champions, National Champions, World Cup winners and Country Champions.   Toss in a gold medallist and paralympic medallist as well and I knew this was going to be a very tough regatta.  The Worlds always brings the best and they all want to win.  I have only been to three Worlds and they are very exciting.  

SA: The 2.4mR can be a wet and cold boat when the breeze comes up. THough in FLorida, I think cold is out. Did your being from and sailing in Wisconsin help prepare you for any of the wet / cold parts??

JR: I believe you have to get comfortable sailing in all conditions, especially the miserable ones, and Wisconsin can give you plenty of chances to do that.  As you know sailing a 2.4 Metre is like being in the bathtub with the shower running.  The three races on Thursday saw 10-20 knots of breeze so I was thankful for the gear to stay somewhat dry and warm.  Ft. Myers had the same intense heat (?) as Qingdao so I was pouring a lot of water over my head to stay as cool as possible.

Rounding the weather mark in light air
Rounding the weather mark in light air

SA: Do you still have Gold on the mind for 2012?

JR: Many things have to fall into place and I hope they do because representing your country at the games is an incredible experience and I would feel very lucky to be able to do that again.

SA: Everyone knows you cannot get to the Olympics/Paralympics alone. Tell us about the involvement of the Bull and Bear Racing program and how much it helped??

JR: The Bull and Bear Racing Team is Henry Colie and without him, Carl Horrocks, Matt Goetting and Pat Koar I would not be able to sail a 2.4 Metre competitively.  I’m so grateful for their help.  They are truly the best at rigging and getting the boats ready to race fast.  They have a work ethic that is hard to match and they know how to make every system work as efficiently as possible. There is a wonderful DVD all about disabled sailing that Bull and Bear made possible.  Let me know if you want some copies

SA: The recent push for the 2.4mR class to go One Design failed and the fallout was to tighten up the App. K Paralympic measurement portion of the class rule. What do you think the class should do??

JR: I’ve always sailed in one design classes.  I hope the class will be one design and the need for App. K will cease to be an issue.  I realize this a simple answer to a not so simple problem.

SA: You also compete in Scows and Ice boating. Tell us more.

JR: Henry Colie was kind enough to let me drive one of his E-scows down in St. Pete and I would love to modify an E-scow again.  I started steering E-scows in 1988 and believe it is one of the best boats to drive full stop.  I sailed them competitively until a car accident that put me in a wheelchair and after getting out of the hospital I sailed again and snapped my femur in two.  I will always be a scow sailor and I’m very partial to the E-scow because my great grandfather helped design it.  He also built the first front steering ice boat and though my last sail on an ice ended with a trip to the hospital in an ambulance I will never turn down a ride.  I’m keeping my eyes open for a great used Nite.  With some luck I would like to do some land sailing this coming Easter.

SA: Johnny, you are not getting any younger. I think you are about my age and I am 52. How much longer will you compete?

John Ruf Smiling
AHH, life is good!

JR: I know I look old but you still have a decade and a year on me.  I sailed against my new friend Per Ahrbom 75 yrs (SWE 378 he finished 8th at the Worlds) and if I’m lucky enough to stay healthy as long as he has I will still be sailing in some fashion. (I must apologize to John, I really thought he was my age. jeez I feel old now.)

SA: Congrats John!!

JR: Thanks Dave.  Hope to see you on the race course soon!