by Don Mason
Racing in the 2008 Australian Blind Sailing Championships, using Noelex 25’’s which will also be used in Rotorua.
The seventh World Blind Sailing Championship is to be held in Rotorua, New Zealand March 14 –21 2009
Blind sailing on a worldwide scale was first initiated by the New Zealand Council for Sailing for Vision Impaired Persons, Auckland New Zealand. Headed by The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, this group organized the first international regatta for the blind in Auckland 1992, which later resulted in the formation of Blind Sailing International (BSI).
BSI was formally organized in 1994 at the second International Championships for the Blind, in Fremantle, Australia hosted by the Fremantle Sailing Club. Subsequent regattas have been held: 1997 Weymouth, England, hosted by the Royal Yachting Association, 1999 Miami, Florida, USA, hosted by Shake a Leg Miami, 2002 Gargnano Lake Garda Italy, hosted by Circolo Vela Gargnano 2006 Newport Rhode Island. hosted by the New York Yacht Club. The number of countries participating in BSI regattas has grown from 5 countries in 1992 to 14 countries in 1999.
Each country is allowed to submit a team in each of three vision categories, any one country could possibly include three teams in their entry, further increasing the number of blind sailors participating. The Vision categories are set according to the International Blind Sport Associations Sight Grading Categories: B1, Total Blindness, B2 Tunnel Vision, peripheral or restricted field vision and B3, vision impairment that restricts how far you can see or light sensitivities and macular degeneration. All gradings are established to a standard formula and are tested by an ophthalmologist.
The Rotorua regatta is being organised by the Bay of Plenty Trailer Yacht Squadron and being sailed in Nolex 25 Trailer Yachts. 19 Crews will be competing from Western Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, New Zealand Norway USA.