From our friend, hero and pit bull, Urban Miyares from Challenged America
sBetween the televisions show “Adventures in Paradise” and the Broadway hit “South Pacific” in the late 1950’s, sailing to Hawaii in the Transpacific Yacht Race has haunted me. Ever since my youth, growing up in New York City, I‘ve Just never been able to get Juanita Hall singing “Bali Hai” or the fantasy of sailing to the Hawaiian Islands out of my head,,” says Urban Miyares, co-founder of the San Diego-based Challenged America program.
The 2013 Transpacific Yacht Race to Hawaii will begin this July 8. Commonly known as “Transpac,” this legendary race from Los Angeles to Honolulu (2,225 nautical miles) has more than a century of folklore and tradition, and is recognized as one of the world’s great races with some of the fastest boats and very best of international sailors. Challenged America is part of this legend, with a crew of sailors (mostly) with severe disabilities racing in the 2003 and 2005 Transpac. A first in Transpac history, and they are doing it again in 2013 with a double-handed crew of disabled veterans: Urban Miyares and David Hopkins.
Urban Miyares’ story is well-known in the veteran community. Presumed dead, Army infantry Sergeant Miyares was put into a KIA (killed in action) bag during a field operation (Vietnam, 1968), when an alert combat medic, assigned to open up body bags and identify the dead soldiers inside, discovered him still breathing and saved his life. For the following forty-five years, Urban’s story is one most often read about in books and seen in movies, as he’s combated the medical issues of war (blindness, type 1 diabetes, PTSD,, hard of hearing, spinal cord injury and disease, stroke survivor, transplant recipient, nerve damage in both legs, chronic pain and other medical complications) to become a nationally-recognized entrepreneur and educator, community leader, world-class athlete and sailor. His life-long “call to Hawaii” was answered when he put together Team Challenged America and competed in both the 2003 and 2005 Transpacific Yacht Race to Hawaii. Urban Miyares is the founder and president of the charitable Disabled Businesspersons Association and co-founder of the charity’s Challenged America program – a therapeutic sailing program first launched in 1978 by two disabled veterans in wheelchairs who, inviting Urban to sail with them, when they coined the name “Challenged America.”
David Hopkins, a Navy veteran (with a military-associated hearing impairment) and San Diego resident grew up in Florida, where he was introduced to small boat sailing and racing as a youth. An active sailboat racer, David has skippered and crewed on many vessels of all sizes, as well as being owner of a number of racing vessels up to 70 feet in length. Hopkins has had a goal of one day doing the Transpac to Hawaii. “It’s just one of those major races in the world every serious and passionate racing-sailor just has to do, David proclaims.
According to Urban, “We have quite a large pool of Challenged America sailors from around North America who want to do the Transpac, as well as some who are most interested in double-handed and solo offshore sailing and racing. With all the new technology, gear and equipment now available, modifying our Tripp 40 to be more sailing accessible by a limited crew and testing this in a race like Transpac, will definitely raise the bar and give us the opportunity to advance rehabilitation and the sport of sailing further. Everyone is challenged by the sea. And we (Challenged America) strive to see who can best meet this challenge.
B’Quest will be entering the boat yard, at this writing, and after an evaluations of her hull, much in modifications are to be done, to include adding a bowsprit, new sail plan (to include roller reefing, much like the around-the-world racers of today), realign all running rigging, and modifications below-deck to better meet the new electronics, medical, fool and water storage needs of sailors who have or become disabled while at sea. Sponsors are now being soughtt to assist with these many changes, adaptations, and modifications to the Challenged America boat.
Support Team Challenged America 2013 Transpac campaign and the volunteer-driven Challenged America program, which is a recognized leader in therapeutic sailing. Donations of vessels may qualify for up to 100% of the current appraised value as a tax-deduction, and all gifts and contributions are fully tax-deductibles. Challenged America is one of five all-volunteer programs of the 501c3 Disabled Businesspersons Association.
For additional information on Challenged America and how you can support the program and its 2013 Transpac campaign, contact Urban Miyares or David Hopkins at Challenged America, 955 Harbor Island Drive, Suite 130, San Diego, CA 92101, Office (619) 523-9318, e-mail, or our website.