by Jake Fish
It is officially 'Disabled Sailing Week' in Wisconsin as the 2013 U.S. Disabled Sailing Championships, hosted by the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center, commences for three days of racing on Lake Michigan, beginning this Friday, September 6. Several of the top sailors in the country will race in single- and doublehanded fleets. This year’s talented field includes Paralympians, US Sailing Sperry Top-Sider members, and new contenders.
US Disabled Championship logo
USDSC13 logoThe U.S. Disabled Singlehanded Championship for the Judd Goldman Trophy will be raced in the 2.4mR class. The 2008 Paralympic Bronze Medalist John Ruf (Pewaukee, Wis.) has high hopes of winning his first U.S. Disabled Sailing Championship in his home state. Ruf is a 2010 2.4mR World Champion and 2011 2.4mR National Champion. He was named Paralympic Sportsman of the Year in 2010.
'The Milwaukee Community Sailing Center is all about sailing and it doesn't matter if you are able or not. They just want you to sail and have fun,' said Ruf. 'I know this will be an incredible event and I wish everyone the best of luck.'
Three-time U.S. Disabled Singlehanded Champion Charles Rosenfield (Woodstock, Conn.) has won three of the last four titles, including the last two. In July, Rosenfield won the North American Challenge Cup in the 2.4mR.
'I'm looking forward to sailing in Milwaukee, where I've never been, and some good 2.4mR racing,' added Rosenfield.
Ryan Porteous (San Diego, Calif.) and Cindy Walker (Abington, Mass.) and Sarah Everhart Skeels (Tiverton, R.I.) and Gerry Tiernan (Falmouth, Maine) 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 & Regatta. These two teams will race in Ideal 18s this week for the U.S. Disabled Doublehanded Championship for the Chandler Hovey Trophy.
Porteous and Walker placed first while Skeels and Tiernan finished second. Last week in Kinsale, Ireland, Porteous and Walker finished as the top U.S. team at the IFDS World Championships in the SKUD-18 division. They were fourth overall. Skeels, a past member of the national team (2010-2011), placed third at the 2010 U.S. Disabled Sailing National Championship.
Walker, a newcomer to the sport, had this to say about her recent experiences. 'Everyone I’ve met in the sailing world has been so encouraging and supportive. Any time I have a question or am looking for more information I don’t have to go far for answers. Any success that’s come my way has to be accredited to my teammates (and their spouses), fellow competitors, our coaches, my coworkers, the sailors at Piers Park and the friends I’ve met through sailing.'
Skeels is excited about sailing at the Milwaukee venue. 'This venue will bring about a greater awareness to our sport and hopefully encourage others to get involved. I also enjoy competing against solid sailboat racers who I typically don't compete against.'
Milwaukee Community Sailing Center CEO Margaret Jaberg said, 'Hosting a national championship for disabled sailors will show the greater Milwaukee community how talented these sailors are, and provide strong role models for our clients in our Adaptive Sail Program that they, too, can conquer the waters. By hosting the U.S. Disabled Sailing Championships, we’re showing that anyone, regardless of their ability, can learn to sail, enjoy it, and even excel. As John Ruf says, sometimes the path to the podium is a ramp.'
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.
US Sailing website