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Boston team wins blind championship

Published on June 18th, 2017

The 2017 Blind Fleet Racing North American and National Championship was held June 16-18 on Lake Michigan at Sheboygan, WI. The event brought four teams to the Sheboygan Lakefront for competitive racing.

Blind fleet racing consists of two blind or visually impaired sailors filling the role of skipper and main trimmer with a sighted crew allowed to trim the jib and a tactician limited to verbal communication. Unlike blind match racing that requires sound making devices on the boats and marks the fleet race can be conducted the same as an able bodied fleet race through the help of the sighted guides. Sheboygan experimented with the sound marks to see if they will provide fair additional aid to the competitors.

Six races were held between Friday and Saturday, June 16 and 17. The weather stalled racing on both Saturday and Sunday with fog and high winds.

“You never know what the weather will be like on the Lake,” said regatta chairman Matt Wierzbach of SEAS. “We want to give the teams the opportunity to get in as many races as possible. This time the weather didn’t cooperate but everyone was glad we got five races in on Friday.”

Winning team led by Skipper Pauline Dowell (third from left) and crew. Also pictured is Matt Wierzbach, Regatta Chairman and Alina Dix, Regatta PRO.

The teams racing and placement were as follows:
1. Skipper Pauline Dowell, Christian Thaxton, Leo Gaskell, and Grace Olsen representing Boston United Blind Sailing (BUBS)

2. Skipper Kris Scheppe, Katherine Kern, Jim Thweatt and Juju Senfft representing Blind Sailing Unlimited, Bay Area Assn. of Disabled Sailors (BAADS) and BUBS

3. Skipper Scott Ford, Larry Carlin, Rachelle Ponce and Guy Mossman representing Warrior Sailing

4. Skipper Walter Raineri, BJ Blahnik, Andrew Wilkinson and Jason Berdyck representing BAADS and Visually Impaired Sailing Institute of North America


Source: Sailing Education Association of Sheboygan

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