Reaching a Wider Range of Sailors

Published on July 31st, 2015

Chicago, IL (July 31, 2015) – The Chicago Yacht Club will be hosting the North American Challenge Cup from Aug. 1-3, 2015 at Belmont Station. The NACC was first run in 1992 in an effort to reach a wider range of sailors in the community and is one of the longest-running events in the disabled sailing circuit. Those participating in the regatta this year range from members of local sailing programs to racers travelling from the Caribbean.

Robert E. Jones, a five-time winner of the Freedom Class in the NACC and former US Sailing Paralympic Team member, is one racer who has been participating in the event almost since its inception. In 1994, the NACC was Jones’s first sailing event after becoming paralyzed, and it has become his annual must-do regatta. Jones explained, “It’s all about the relationships. Before my first NACC, I didn’t know any disabled sailors, but now I come back for the community.”

The Windy City turned the breeze on for Friday’s sailing clinic with the Chair of International Federation of Disabled Sailors for ISAF and Paralympic Coach Betsy Alison. “Conditions today built people’s confidence and skill levels in the bigger breeze so that if it stays windy, they’re prepared for it and if it eases off, everything’s that much easier,” explains Alison. Jones hopes the breeze holds up through the weekend, though he says that his extensive experience has prepared him for any conditions. “Let the wind blow and the sun shine!”

Coming in for her first NACC experience is University of Illinois Chicago graduate student, Elizabeth ‘Biz’ Gauthier. “It’s a little intimidating going out there with past Olympians and NACC veterans, but Barb [Galinski] and I just like going out there and having fun.” This is Gauthier’s third year sailing, and she looks forward to using this weekend to build on her skills.

The NACC features two sailing classes – the Freedom 20 and Sonar. Racing begins on Saturday and runs through Monday (Aug 1-3). Details here:

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