Doing the Right Thing
UK Sailmakers focuses on making fast, durable sails; but we’re also interested in making the sport of sailboat racing better…and more enjoyable. Here’s something to consider:
Over the past few weeks, adaptive sailing has been in the yachting news having been eliminated from the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic games. While that’s a pretty bad decision from the powers that be, in reality it only directly impacts a few dozen elite disabled sailors. However this disappointing news has given more exposure to the adaptive sailing community, and despite the Paralympics, we should not lose sight that this niche sport continues to thrive and grow.
Across the country there are scores of established adaptive sailing programs and US Sailing lists many here. Some of the more established organizations are:
The Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating
The Judd Goldman Adaptive Sailing Program in Chicago
Shake-a-Leg in Miami
Sail to Prevail in Newport, RI
The Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors
Boston’s Community Boating
While these may set the gold standard for on-going adaptive sailing programs, they and most adaptive sailing programs have either purpose-built or modified boats that enable sailors with varying ranges of disabilities to enjoy the sport we able-bodied sailors love.
Another new program gaining traction is the Warrior Sailing Program led by 2012 Women Sailor-of-the-Year and 2012 Paralympic Skud silver medalist Jennifer French and US Sailing’s Paralympic Head Coach Betsy Alison. Together, Jennifer and Betsy have created a series of “basic training camps” to introduce active military and veterans with disabilities to sailing and basic sailboat racing.
Every adaptive sailing program needs your support in terms of time volunteered or your dollars donated. The more support these programs receive, the greater their footprint can be…serving more adults and kids with disabilities.
If there isn’t an adaptive sailing program in your area to support, there’s another option. Filmmaker Christine Knowlton is about to complete the documentary Sense the Wind, a four-year story of four sailors competing towards the 2013 Blind World Sailing Championship. This inspiring and entertaining documentary will be shared with yachting organizations and adaptive programs across the country. While it focuses specifically on blind sailors, its message resonates beyond sailing and blindness to inspire anyone to reach higher and do more with what you have. As featured sailor Matt Chao says, “I’m not vision impaired…I’m blind and I don’t look back.” Sense the Wind is currently crowd sourcing to fund accessible distribution and outreach. You can see a trailer of the film and become a supporter here.
BTW, we at UK Sailmakers aren’t standing-by idly. UK supports the Robie Pierce Regattas for sailors with disabilities (RobiePierceOneDesignRegatta.com) by building and donating all the safety harnesses the Larchmont and American Yacht Clubs need for their specially adapted Ideal 18s. We’ve put our money where our mouth is. Perhaps, you can join us in supporting the adaptive sailing community. Have any thoughts? E-mail me at [email protected]
Adam Loory, General Manager