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Blind Sailor Wins Robie Pierce One-Design Regatta

Published on June 1st, 2015

Seventeen crews of sailors with disabilities sailed specially adapted Ideal 18s in the seventh annual Robie Pierce One-Design Regatta on May 29-31. Hosted jointly by the American and Larchmont Yacht Clubs, this year’s event was sailed out of American’s facility in Rye, NY, and continues to be the only major adaptive regatta on western Long Island Sound.

Duane Farrar (Watertown, MA) and Amy Bower (Falmouth, MA), blind sailors sailing with Sol Marini as their sighted guide, bested the fleet with a final points total of 18 points after ten races. The team is striving to compete in the 2015 Blind Sailing World Championship in Chicago, IL.

Finishing second was last year’s Robie Pierce winning combination of Mike Hersey (Hyannis, MA) and 2008 Paralympic Gold Medalist Maureen McKinnon (Marblehead, MA) with Hersey’s son Matt reprieving his role as AB (able-body sailor). Rounding out the top three was Craig Wilson (Holden, MA) and Charles McClure (Brookline, MA) sailing with Paula Schaefer and Roger King sharing the AB duties. Complete results.

The Robie Pierce One-Design Regatta was started in 2009 with the objective of expanding the footprint of adaptive sailing in western Long Island Sound. The Robie strives to be as inclusive as possible including sailors with physical disabilities, neuro muscular diseases, visual impairments, and other disabilities. It is also one of the few adaptive events that has 17-20 one-design boats starting at the same time.

From the beginning, Heineken has been the lead sponsor for the Robie Pierce Regatta providing generous financial support for adaptive sailing along with Heineken beverages onshore. Dolf van de Brink, Heineken CEO of the Americas, was out on the water with his family to cheer on the competitors.

For the second year, Burke Rehabilitation and Research, the area’s major rehabilitation hospital, was a sponsor of the Robie. Burke has been a source for new participants, many who serve as crew for experienced disabled skippers.

Catherine Evins, a Burke outpatient, sailed with skipper Tracy Schmitt (Toronto, ON), Cathy’s first time on the water ever. In the second race they finished second and she was beside herself with joy. After meeting 2012 Paralympic Silver Medalist Jen French (St. Petersburg, FL) and Betsy Alison, U.S. Sailing’s Paralympic Coach, Evans said “Today was my day of miracles!” And she wasn’t the only first-time sailor thanks to Burke.

Of the 40 disabled sailors participating, and the numerous accompanying family members and aides, one in five were new to the Robie. This year, the crop of first time Robie sailors included five members of the Warrior Sailing Program, all disabled veterans who are pursuing sailing as a part of their post-service life. This program is underwritten by the Kings Point Foundation and benefits from the leadership of both Jen French and Betsy Allison.

The 2016 Robie Pierce One-Design Regatta will be held at Larchmont Yacht Club on June 3-5 with the Robie Pierce Women’s Invitational returning on Thursday, June 2.

Source: Robie Pierce One-Design Regatta

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