by Sam Crichton
Participants at the 12th C. Thomas Clagett, Jr. Memorial Clinic and Regatta took to the water on a chilly Narragansett Bay in Newport RI today to spend time working with the coaching team who are sharing their knowledge with the three classes of boats taking part. Paralympic sailing teams from both the USA and Canada have their full team taking part in the Clagett.
Nick Bryan-Brown preparing to launch on 6-12-14
Lead by Betsy Alison (Newport, RI), the head coach for the US Sailing Paralympic team, the coaching line up this year has Craig Guthrie (Minot, ND), returning to Clagett and being joined by Mike Pinckney (Balboa, CA), Mike Ingham (Rochester, NY) and Marko Dahlberg (Ylojarvi, Finland). The mission of the event is 'to provide sailors with disabilities the opportunity to improve their skills and reach personal goals through world-class coaching and competition'.
'We have a terrific team of coaches this year with a vast amount of experience, in particular coaches who have worked with Paralympic sailors in the past. We have a number of Clagett first timers this year, along with many sailors who are returning to the Clagett after taking part for many years,' commented Alison who has been involved with the Clagett since its inception.
Fifty one competitors across the 2.4mR, SKUD 18 and Sonar classes had a chance to test out the boats, sails, sailing skills and techniques in a south easterly breeze that fluctuated from 10-18 knots over the course for the afternoon. The coaches took each fleet out to the race course, located between Goat and Rose Islands, which they will use over the next three days of racing. Each fleet was put through their paces as they practiced race starts, mark roundings and optimizing their boats to the conditions they experienced on the water today.
The volunteer contingent that assists with the running of the Clagett travel from across the country each year to help get the competitors on the water for the four days of the event.
'Without the volunteers who give their time each year and the local organizations who support this event through donations it would be very difficult to run this event. We have volunteers who have been coming to the Clagett for the 12 years we have run it to help with a variety of jobs. Local companies on Aquidneck Island have supported us with the donation of product and services and I am extremely grateful for everything they and the volunteers do,' said event founder Judy McLennan (Portsmouth, RI).
Racing starts tomorrow Friday June 13 at 11am and spectators can view the racing from the foreshore of Goat Island or at the jetty at the boat basin at Fort Adams State Park.
About the C. Thomas Clagett, Jr. Memorial Clinic and Regatta: Founded in 2002, the C. Thomas Clagett, Jr. Memorial Clinic and Regatta honors the late Tom Clagett (1916-2001), a U.S. Navy World War II veteran who learned to sail on Chesapeake Bay. As a young man he suffered temporary paralysis as the result of a bout of meningitis; an experience that left him with a deep respect for the accomplishments of people with disabilities. The Clagett’s stated mission is to assist sailors in realizing their potential on the water by providing them both the knowledge and tools to improve their skills and the opportunity to use these skills in competition. Tom Clagett's motto was 'Reach for Success' and it is these words the Clagett strives towards every year it is held.
The event includes all three boats that have been chosen as the equipment of the Paralympic classes: the three-person Sonar, the two-person SKUD-18 and the singlehanded 2.4 Metre (mR). Clagett competitors have seen medal success at the 2008 and 2012 Paralympic Games. Competitors often comment that, The Clagett, has improved their quality of life as they apply what is achieved on the water to everyday situations
Additional information can be found online at the Event website.