stp warrior

stp warrior

It’s back on for the Singlehanded Transpac this year. I did the race in 2010 on Vietnam vet Don Gray’s Mount Gay 30 Warrior’s Wish. Being a wounded Iraq USMC Vet myself, I was graciously supported by the wounded-veteran non-profit Hope for the Warriors®. I was extremely proud to finish the race on July 4, 2010, claiming 2nd in class and 6th overall. On the way back home to California, my sailing mentor Ed McCoy and I suffered a freak keel failure, but managed more than 700 miles of keel-less travel to make it back to San Francisco under our own power using the 30 footer’s 9 hp one-lunger and a jib. Through Don and Ed’s support in 2010, I became even more stoked on sailing, knocking out 10,000 miles at sea in 2011 including a Transpac on a 1D35 Alpha Puppy, return trip on Criminal Mischief and a Baja Ha-Ha and bash home.

In October, I scraped together some cash, a rented pickup truck and a Craigslist ad and came home with Moore 24 US 101 to race in the 2012 Singlehanded Transpac. I’ve been sailing and racing the boat almost every weekend, and am now in full-on prep mode for the race. Hope for the Warriors® has again stepped up huge to support my campaign and what i’m doing. I’m stoked to be working with them again and really excited about this year’s projects. Quantum Sail Design Group has sponsored my campaign and i’m blown away by their generosity and support. In addition, West Marine Rigging Service and Marina Village Yacht Harbor have come back on to help me out in 2012. Without all of these guys stepping in, there’s no way that I would have been able to compete in the race this year, so THANKS!

But we’re not just racing to Hawaii, this campaign has a mission. Many of you know my story and how sailing saved me. And it’s that gift that we are now hoping to pass onto others. We have a lot of men and women in this country who have been wounded and adversely affected by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Sailing can help them. A lot of these veterans are now paraplegics, quadriplegics and amputees. Several of them have very severe burns, scarring and disfigurement. Brain damage, blindness, the list goes on.

I lived in a military barracks in San Antonio, TX for one and a half years that was full of wounded Iraq and Afghanistan vets. I saw things in there that i’ll never forget. Guys with two stumps and a wife that left them. Guys who were stuck in a wheel chair and took to the bottle. And worse. Being stripped of everything in your life, while being a fit young man (or woman) who should be enjoying their prime, can completely destroy a person.

When you put them into a sailboat and teach them to sail, it’s going to change their lives. When a puff rolls down the water and heels the boat over, these guys are going to experience their first positive adrenaline rush since before they were injured. We want to put them out on the water for a few days, develop camaraderie and then have a beer and celebrate at the club afterwards. That’s our vision. Let’s inspire them. Let’s make them want more. Sailing is a sport that does not care if you have arms or legs. No matter how you got hurt in one of the wars, we are going to help you through sailing.

Quantum flew me up to Seattle for this weekend’s Seattle Boat Show to conduct a fundraising speaking engagement, and now we have three sailing clinics on the calendar for 2012. Thanks to the support of the local sailing communities, we are planning on conducting two events in San Francisco in April and October and an event in Seattle in September.

In April and October in San Francisco, we will be teaching these wounded vets how to sail at South Beach Yacht Club in San Francisco. Spinnaker Sailing is hooking us up with some school boats to teach in and their 84’ steel schooner Bay Lady. That thing is so huge that we can do a sunset cruise under the Golden Gate with wheelchairs aboard! The Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors (BAADS) is working with us to pull off these events, utilizing their Access dinghies and extensive training experience in working with disabled people and adaptive sailing. And the Java House, which is a SOMA institution is going to help keep the guys well fed. Maria will see to it!

We are planning on conducting a very similar clinic in Seattle in September, working with the FOOTLOOSE organization, which works to teach people with disabilities to sail in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. In addition, we will also have dock space, yacht club support and keel boats for the event.

But these events take money. Flying these guys out here, putting them in hotels, feeding them, renting adaptive transportation vehicles, etc. The bill hits 5-figures quickly. If you like what we’re doing and want to help us use sailing to make a positive impact in the lives of men and women who have made significant sacrifices in service to our country, then visit www.hopeforthewarriors.org and see what we’re all about. If you want to kick down a beer to one of these guys or perhaps a plane ticket, then click the link and make a donation. It is going to help change someone’s life. It has mine.

The support that I have found from both the San Francisco and Seattle sailing communities is both overwhelming and inspiring. It is a true testament to the sport and to these cities to have so many good people in SF and Seattle! In addition to the above, I have to give special thanks to Brad Vickers, manager of the Seattle Boat Show. Brad is a class human being and truly goes the extra mile to help a cause he believes in.

Between prepping the Moore, racing her on the weekends and working on these wounded veteran sailing programs, it’s going to be a busy spring. The Singlehanded Transpac starts on June 30 and it looks like we might have a one-design Moore fleet! Go the US 101!

Please follow our exploits here on SA, and more frequently via our Facebook page (please ‘like’ us) and our blog! -Ronnie Simpson, photos by Surf City Racing.