Inspirational sailors refuse to bow to physical challenges
Published on August 23rd, 2013
“Don’t just sit on your arse feeling sorry for yourself – go and compete.”
That was the stirring advice of two champion America’s Cup sailors stricken by multiple sclerosis (MS) who are now competing in the IFDS World Disabled Sailing Championships in Ireland.
New Zealand sailors David Barnes and Rick Dodson are leading a star-studded field of 200 athletes from 18 countries competing in the nine-day championships in Kinsale, Co Cork, Ireland on August 26-30
The competition features athletes who have been left paralysed in accidents as well as sailors who have illnesses such as MS.
Dodson and Barnes, who were both diagnosed with MS 15 years ago, were a key part of eight New Zealand America’s Cup teams in the 1980s and 1990s. Both were instrumental in helping New Zealand win the most prestigious cup in world sailing on two separate occasions.
“I was sitting watching the London Paralympic Games and said, s**t, I can do this. For a few years (after the MS diagnosis) we sat on our arses and then decided to go back to what we loved most, sailing,” said Dodson.
The regatta is open to the Sonar, Skud 18 and 2.4 mR classes, with 10 races scheduled in each class.