Champagne Sailing at Blind Worlds

Published on September 11th, 2015

Chicago, IL (September 11, 2015) – Competitors’ strength and stamina were tested at Day Two of the IFDS Blind Sailing World & International Championship, presented by Wintrust. Due to abandoning races on Thursday, Chicago Yacht Club On the Water Director and Principal Race Officer Jay Kehoe was determined to get in as much as racing as practical for Day Two.

“The conditions today were simply champagne,” said Kehoe. “I hope everyone had as much fun as we did on the Race Committee boat.” Four races were completed for the Blind 2 Section and five races for Blind 1 and 3 sections in 20 knots of breeze and six foot waves.

After losing a visually-impaired crewmember due to a family emergency, David Brown (CAN) and his crew came up with an innovative resolution so as not to miss out on the championship. Karen Kinsey joined Brown onboard as the main trimmer; however, since Kinsey is sighted, she was blindfolded for the duration of the races.

Karen Kinsey Trims Main Blindfolded for David Brown CAN - Chris Albanis

“At first I felt a little nauseous, but I was surprised that I wasn’t scared or claustrophobic,” said Karen. “It was very disorienting. I knew where I was on the boat, but no idea where we were on the racecourse. Anytime the horn would go off on the signal boat, I suddenly knew where we were.”

Lucy Hodges (GBR) and her team maneuvered expertly through the waves showing why she is a previous world champion and just how much familiarity with the conditions could pay off. “It’s a lot about the feel of picking the bow up and knowing how to drive to that,” Hodges explained. “Downwind was a huge amount of fun. If you caught the wave just right and come off the top, you were surfing down to the finish.”

This is Russell Lowry’s (NZL) first time racing on Lake Michigan. Lowry is racing in the Blind 1 Section onboard the Sonars. “I wasn’t expecting this sort of chop [in Chicago]. We went up-up with it and down-down with it; working the tiller to maximize the waves.” Lowry’s boat steadily improved throughout the day with the tough conditions finishing off the day with a bullet in Race 5.

Kehoe is determined again going into Saturday to take advantage of all Lake Michigan has to offer, but the forecast is calling for more wind. The northeasterly breeze over the lake is causing the waves to build with no signs of letting up overnight. The forecast is not deterring competitors like Lowry, who said, “Bring it on, Chicago!”

The Blind 1 and Blind 2 Sections are racing aboard Sonars provided by Chicago Yacht Club and Sail Sheboygan, and the Blind 3 Section is racing on the Chicago Match Race Center’s TOM28s. No modifications are made to the boats or logistics of the regatta.

Racing is scheduled for September 10-13.

Additional information:

Report by Morgan Kinney, Communications Director, Chicago Yacht Club

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