2 weeks ago my sons and I had the opportunity to assist at the U.S. Disabled Championship regatta which was being held right here in Greenwich CT. What we thought would be just a weekend filled with helping sailors get into and out of their boats quickly became much more. What we saw not only impressed us but will leave a lasting impression on us for years to come.
Many of the sailors were paraplegic and quadriplegic which makes sailing all the more challenging. They came with special seats that were secured to the boat but then they need to be strapped into them, in some cases bundled up with plastic bags around their feet to keep them dry and parka like suits to keep them warm. The point being how would they know if they were wet or cold? In some cases we had to tape their hands directly to the tiller with duct tape so they could use their shoulder to operate the tiller!
But what really struck us even more was the mix of blind sailors on the water. Picture yourself driving a car in a race with a blindfold on and only a person next to you to tell you where to go! Above you see Matt Chao sailing downwind and reading the wind on his face as he steers the boat. We saw Matt execute moves at the start of a race and at mark roundings that even accomplished sailors rarely attempt.
Our hats are off to all of these brave men and women who participated in this regatta and even those that didn’t qualify for it. You are welcome on my boat any day so until then – Press on Regardless!