What someone visually impaired can do

Published on October 3rd, 2019

Bill Tempro has always been a keen sportsman. Growing up in Barbados, he played football and cricket for Lodge School, and after graduation he continued with these sports and field hockey at Pickwick Club.

Bill Hoad introduced him to sailing when he was ten. Under his coach’s guidance, young Bill Tempro was soon sailing a Heron called “Baby Doll” in local competitions. His first venture into international competition was an Easter trip to Grenada to compete in GP14s (a two man dinghy) against teams from Grenada, Trinidad, and Martinique. It was on this trip that Bill became crew for Jackie Hoad, with several similar trips following.

The two-man team of Jackie and Bill became local champions and went on to represent Barbados at the first GP14 World championship in 1967, in Ontario, Canada. Upon arrival in Ontario, a Canadian sailor loaned them a brand new GP14 and gave them permission to tune the boat to their own specification. Jackie and Bill took full advantage of this and won the World title – an amazing feat.

Later, Jackie and Bill competed locally and regionally in both Fireballs and Flying Dutchmen. Around that time regional offshore yacht racing was becoming more popular, and Bill was invited by Edmund Bailey to be captain of Morning Mist.

For several years this yacht successfully represented Barbados in regattas in Trinidad, Tobago, Grenada, St. Vincent, Martinique, and Antigua. With Bill at the helm it won the Swan Worlds Cup in Antigua against an international fleet of Swans.

It was while sailing the 43-foot Beneteau Idylle Regent One to Trinidad in 2007 that Bill suddenly realized he could not see, and based on prior experience, he diagnosed a detached retina.

On arrival in Trinidad, swift arrangements were made for Bill to fly directly to Canada for medical attention. Currently Bill has very limited vision; he can see shapes that he is close to but cannot make out details.

Undaunted by this handicap, Bill has continued racing, and is determined to help others avoid vision loss while demonstrating what someone who is visually impaired can do. This is why he volunteered to sail single handed around Barbados to raise funds for the Lions Eye Care Centre at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Bill will be 75 years old when on October 13 he takes on the Sail for Sight challenge around Barbados on Nana Anna, a Beneteau 47. He will rely on his vast experience to help guide his course. His biggest dangers are offshore reefs and gear failure on his yacht. However, other boats will be in contact and will provide assistance, if needed.

If you can support this cause, click here.

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