Sailing is for everyone, even the disabled

Published on June 11th, 2013

By Glenn McCarthy
I have a good sailing friend who lost two legs in an auto accident 20 years ago. And I have not met anyone who is so upfront and straight forward about how he deals and beats the challenge in everything he does. His forthrightness, and explanations of the prosthetics, the care of the stumps and simply how to get around, has made me comfortable with the subject. I’m an advocate for life jacket wearing, and one day he cornered me and said that double leg amputees don’t like life jackets. “They make us float butt up.” Without the weight of the legs holding the body vertical, he inverts. It is this type of frank talk that helps all of us understand the challenges of a disability.

However, you quickly find that this group doesn’t like to be called “disabled,” because they are very able at doing everything. So a few years ago, an effort was made to change the title to “Sailors with Special Needs.”

Sailing is a Paralympic sport. Each athlete is assigned points based on their needs and when sailing as a team, the maximum points the team can have is 14 points. You’ll see these sailors taking off an arm or leg prosthesis, leaving them on the dock to get their team down to 14 points. Each person can adjust their “points” based on how able (with prosthetics) or disabled (with one or more prosthetics removed) they are.

With the number of injuries in car crashes, veterans coming back after defending our country, this exciting sport awaits them. Convince them to give it a try, most are surprised at how invigorating sailing is and gives them a big boost. Try any or all of these programs … read on

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