Getting Disabled Sailors on the Water
Published on June 5th, 2016
Pauline Dowell, a blind sailor who lives aboard a boat in Boston Harbor, won the 2016 Robie Pierce One-Design Regatta for sailors with disabilities sailed June 3-5 at Larchmont Yacht Club (Larchmont, NY) and co-hosted by American Yacht Club. The three-day event used 16 specially-adapted Ideal 18s for six races on Long Island Sound off Larchmont Harbor.
Dowell’s success was shared with her all-Boston crew comprised of Christian Thaxton and sighted guide Kay Van Valkenburgh. After winning three of the of six races and taking a second in another, Dowell ended with a three-point lead over 2014 Blind Sailing World Champion and fellow Bostonian Matt Chao. Chao was sailing with Larchmont Yacht Club’s Bill Blanchard and able-bodied sailor (AB) Bud Heerde. In third was Ted King (Brentwood, NH) with crew Jim Scott (Portsmouth, NH) and AB Bill Sandberg (Annapolis, MD).
Fickle conditions prevailed for all three days with delays due to light winds and storms.
The Women’s Invitational, sailed Thursday June 2, included five races sailed stadium-style inside Larchmont Harbor. Tracy Schmitt (Toronto, ON) and fellow Canadian crew Sarai Demers and LYC AB Alison Puleo.
This year marked the eighth Robie Pierce One-Design Regatta, named after one of the founding fathers of adaptive sailing. Over the years, the Robie had become one of the country’s foremost regatta for sailors with disabilities and this year, with the inclusion of the Robie Pierce Women’s Invitational Regatta, over fifty sailors with disabilities were on the water over the weekend.
Add to that headcount the 50+ volunteers from Larchmont and American Yacht Club plus community supporters, and this represents one of North America’s largest adaptive regattas.