Ryan Porteous, Maureen McKinnon Earn US Team Selection
Published on May 28th, 2016
Medemblik, the Netherlands (May 28, 2016) – Ryan Porteous (San Diego, Calif.) and Maureen McKinnon (Marblehead, Mass.) have earned selection to the Rio 2016 U.S. Paralympic Sailing Team based on the results of the US Sailing Paralympic Athlete Selection Series in the two-person keelboat.
This will be the second Team USA appearance for McKinnon, who won gold in the SKUD-18 at Beijing 2008 with the late Nick Scandone (Fountain Valley, Calif.). Rio 2016 will be the first Paralympic Games for Porteous, who is currently a student at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
The second and final U.S. selection event for the SKUD-18 was the 2016 Para World Sailing Championships (May 24-28) / Delta Lloyd Regatta in Medemblik, The Netherlands. Porteous and McKinnon entered the event with a two-point lead in the series over US Sailing Team Sperry (national team) teammates Sarah Everhart-Skeels (Tiverton, R.I.) and Cindy Walker (Middletown, R.I.). The American boats were closely matched, and the battle for Paralympic selection came down to the final race of the regatta.
“It’s been a lot of ups and down this week, but we made it,” said McKinnon, who is campaigning for the Paralympics for a fourth time. “This week [at the Para Worlds] was just over-the-top tough,” said McKinnon, who explained that medical complications and equipment breakdowns had nearly derailed their efforts in Medemblik. “Our boat broke down more than once, catastrophically so on the first day. We couldn’t [compete in] the second race, but finished the first.”
Despite these early struggles, Porteous and McKinnon steadily closed the gap with Everhart-Skeels and Walker, culminating in a tense and emotional final day of the Worlds for both hardworking teams.
Porteous said he was very proud to have won the right to sail for his country on the biggest stage in adaptive sports. “A lot of emotions, for sure.” said Porteous. “Relief, accomplishment. It’s going to be great sailing against these elite athletes at the Games, and I’m honored to be representing the United States.”
Porteous noted that sailing with a gold medalist has been a key advantage during the campaign. “Maureen always has that positive attitude,” said Porteous. “We want through a lot at this regatta, and she was so positive the whole time. It really helps keep the boat nice and calm, and [helped] remind us that it wasn’t over yet.”
Coaching Porteous and McKinnon was US Sailing Team Sperry Paralympic Coach and record five-time US Sailing Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year Award recipient Betsy Alison (Newport, R.I.). “We’ve been so privileged to have Betsy with us,” said McKinnon. “She’s been my coach since 2002. We know how to work together, and she knows how to inspire me to do what I need to do.”
In addition to working for the national team, Alison also plays a key worldwide leadership role in the sport as the recently-appointed head of World Sailing’s Disabled Sailing Committee (DSC).
When asked if their team could challenge for a medal at the Paralympic Games in September, Porteous expressed confidence. “I think we can compete with the best boats in the world,” said Porteous. “Thankfully, the US Sailing Team Sperry and Clearwater Community Sailing Center have sent a boat down [to Rio] that we can train on. We’re going to head down there in about two weeks, start putting the time in [at the venue], and figuring things out. We have a lot we can get better at, and hopefully we’ll win a medal for the U.S.”
Note: All athletes named to the U.S. Paralympic Team are subject to approval by the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC).
Source: US Sailing Team