by Jake Fish
Another successful edition of the US Disabled Sailing Championships competition was wrapped up yesterday, Sunday, at North San Diego Bay. Hosted by the Southwestern Yacht Club, titlists were crowned in three championship fleets of single-, double-, and triple-handed racing.
U.S. Disabled Sailing Championships 2012 concluded Sunday, 28 October at North San Diego Bay
In the 2.4 mR single-handed fleet, Charles Rosenfield (Woodstock, Conn.) held off Joseph Hill (Seabrook, Texas) to win his third Judd Goldman Trophy. The fleet completed two more races. Rosenfield came up big in Race 7, the final race of the championship, by posting a bullet to seal the win. Hill finished third in Race 7. Rosenfield was third in Race 6 and Hill was second. Rosenfield won the US Disabled Single-handed Championship in 2011 and 2009.
Michael Strahle (Redding, Calif.) and Donna DeMarest (Waterbury, Conn.) captured the Martin 16 double-handed fleet for the Chandler Hovey Trophy by a point over the hard charging team of Bob E. Jones (Issaquah, Wash.) and Ken Kelly (Victoria, B.C.). Strahle and DeMarest finished fourth and third today, while Jones and Kelly were third and second. Colin Smith (Middlebury, Vt.) and Ryan Porteous (San Diego, Calif.) were impressive today by winning both races.
Andrew Fisher (Greenwich, Conn.), Mike Hersey (Hyannis, Mass.), and Ryan Levinson (San Diego, Calif.) finished an outstanding regatta with three more wins in as many races on Sunday to win the Capri 22 triplehanded fleet for the Gene Hinkel Trophy. Fisher and his crew won five of eight races for the regatta to win by five points over Rick Doerr (Clifton, N.J.), Gerard Tiernan (Falmouth, Maine) and Michael Ross (Oceanside, Calif.).
'We stayed focused and positive throughout, and when we needed to snap back in line we did,' said Fisher. 'I’m happy to be here and I’m happy that I can still drive a sailboat.
Sailing is such a cerebral sport. I love how it so intellectual.' Fisher has his sights set on a possible Paralympic campaign for Rio 2016.
The event is open to any sailor with a physical disability. Participants have included quadriplegics, paraplegics and amputees, as well as individuals with multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, polio and ALS.
Many of this year’s participants have Paralympic ambitions. Several past participants of this championship have gone on to compete in the Paralympic Games, including 2008 Paralympic Gold Medalist, the late Nick Scandone. The U.S. Disabled Sailing Championship has been hosted by different sailing organizations around the country to expand awareness of disabled sailing and encourage disabled individuals to take up the sport.
There were also three developmental fleets, including the Martin 16 (double-handed), Access Liberty (single-handed), and Access 303 (double-handed). These developmental fleets ran in tandem with the championship fleets. The purpose of these fleets is to provide returning or new sailors an opportunity to race and work on tactical skills and boat-handling.
Since the 1980s, US Sailing has actively supported sailboat racing among physically challenged sailors. The inaugural championship, then called the Independence Cup, took place in 1990 and for many years held in conjunction with the North American Challenge Cup by the Chicago Yacht Club. Beginning in 2007, US Sailing encouraged clubs and venues around the country to host the championship. The success in moving the event around the USA has provided an impetus for host venues to create other disabled sailing events like the annual Robie Pierce regatta held on Long Island Sound.