by Dana Paxton
A group of four athletes qualified for the 2013 US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider in the Paralympic SKUD-18 class, based on their results at the C. Thomas Clagett Jr. Memorial Clinic and Regatta, June 28-30, in Newport, R.I. Two teams – Ryan Porteous (San Diego, Calif.) and Cindy Walker (Abington, Mass.) and Sarah Everhart Skeels (Tiverton, R.I.) and Gerry Tiernan (Falmouth, Maine) – finished the regatta in first and second place, respectively, to join 34 athletes on the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider.
us sailing team sperry top sider logo
'These two SKUD-18 teams represent a mix of youth and experience,' said Josh Adams, Managing Director of U.S. Olympic Sailing. 'Though it’s early in the 2016 Paralympic quadrennium, the SKUD-18 teams at the Clagett came here to race and showed excellent form. We're pleased to welcome Ryan, Cindy, Sarah, and Gerry to the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider.'
Although they are a new pairing, Sarah Everhart Skeels and Gerry Tiernan bring extensive experience in adaptive sailing to their SKUD-18 campaign. Skeels, a past member of the national team (2010-2011), has competed in the SKUD for a number of years, collecting two fifth-place finishes at the annual ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami and a third place at the 2010 U.S. Disabled Sailing National Championship. Tiernan participated in a Sonar campaign during the previous Paralympic quadrennium with ’08 gold medalist Maureen McKinnon and Andy Fisher.
Ryan Porteous and Cindy Walker are a new pair and new to the SKUD-18. They credit US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider Paralympic Coach Betsy Alison with encouraging them to try the two-person skiff. Porteous has been competitively sailing for most of his life, while Walker is relatively new to racing. Both have a natural affinity for the sport and admit this campaign is new, but agree that their sharp focus on learning the boat and competing will be an exciting challenge. Photo top: Skeels and Tiernan; below: Porteous and Walker. Credit US Sailing
Both teams will next compete at the IFDS (International Association for Disabled Sailing) World Championship, Aug. 26-30 in Kinsale, IRL.
The SKUD-18 was selected for the 2016 and 2020 Paralympic Games as the equipment for the two person keelboat. It was first introduced at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games where USA’s Nick Scandone and Maureen McKinnon won a gold medal. At the 2012 Games, USA’s Jen French and JP Creignou won silver. The USA leads the Paralympic Games medal table with six won since sailing was included in the Games first as a demonstration sport in 1996 and then a full event in 2000.
US Sailing Team website