Two America's Cup and winners of multiple World Championships, now Paralympians, have joined forces to in a campaign to win a Gold medal in the 2016 Paralympics.
David Barnes a winner of three consecutive 470 World Championships in 1982-1984, and considered very unlucky not to have won the NZ Olympic selection trials in 1984, will team up with former OK world champion, keelboat world champion, Rick Dodson. Between them, they have competed in nine Americas Cup Regattas, winning two.
Rick, along with brother Tom, spearheaded the development of North Sails New Zealand loft turning it into a major force in work playing a very significant role in all New Zealand's America's Cup campaigns over the past 25 years.
Both Rick Dodson and David Barnes have been diagnosed as suffering from multiple sclerosis – a debilitating degenerative disease that ravages the central nervous system. They have both suffered from the disease for the past 13 years.
To raise finance for their campaign in the three man Sonar class, two of the adversaries in the 2013 America's Cup Regatta, Sir Russell Coutts and Grant Dalton will speak at a dinner in Auckland to be hosted by Sir Michael Fay.
Part of the dinner will be an auction, the centrepiece of which is expected to be the auctioning of a ride aboard Oracle Team USA's AC72 in San Francisco.
Dodson and Barnes teamed up with paraplegic sailor, Andrew May (disabled in a car crash at the age of 18 years) to place sixth in their first event in the Miami OCR earlier this year. It was their first sail in the three man Paralympic keelboat last year.
David and Richard teamed up with Andrew May to sail in the Miami Olympic and Paralymic regatta held late in January this year. The won the seventh race, which encouraged the crew to create history and win the first ever medal for New Zealand in the sailing Paralympics.
In the invitation for the dinner, expected to attract about 800 guests, Sir Michael Fay wrote:
'I am writing to invite your support at an elite gala dinner with special guests Russell Coutts and Grant Dalton as we lead up to this year’s anticipated clash between Oracle Team USA and Emirates Team New Zealand in the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco. The purpose of this dinner is to raise funds for two of New Zealand’s greatest sailing talents, Rick Dodson and David Barnes, who both suffer from multiple sclerosis (MS) and are campaigning to win gold in the 2016 Rio Paralympics.
'This gala dinner will be the first, and possibly only, event with both Russell Coutts and Grant Dalton before the America’s Cup. With neither of these men shy when it comes to speaking their minds, I expect the live question and answer session, moderated by Peter Montgomery, will be very entertaining! There will also be keynote remarks from Coutts and Dalton.
'Both Rick Dodson and David Barnes are sailing legends in their own right, and were it not for MS they too would be at the peak of their careers like Coutts and Dalton. For the last 10 years Dodson and Barnes have watched their former crewmen live out dreams they once had, while they sat sidelined by MS, but now they have a chance to get these dreams back by competing in Paralympic sailing.
'Russell, Grant and myself believe the New Zealand yachting community owe it to these great sailors to help them see gold in Rio, which is why we are all rallying around in support of their quest.
'The auction at this event will be like no other with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities being generously donated such as the chance to sail on this year’s America’s Cup AC72 boats. '
The campaign has partnered with Duco Events to help make this event a success.
To reserve a table or seats please contact Waverley Burke at Duco Events on (+649)309 2907 or firstname.lastname@example.org. or click here to see the website
Writing in the prestigious Seahorse magazine, noted sailing journalist Ivor Wilkins reports that Dodson and Barnes have established a campaign office at North Sails in Auckland, where they meet most days to plan their campaign. Every Tuesday night, they sail with Etchells crowd on Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour to hone their skills and get back into racing mode.
Already on Barnes’ computer is a schedule of international regattas leading all the way to Rio in 2016. Immediate plans are to pick up their new boat from Cowes in time for the worlds at Kinsale, Ireland in August.
Then they go to Rochester, USA for the open worlds. 'We plan to sail in disabled and also open regattas,' says Barnes. 'We want to sail against the best in the world. We can’t help but learn from them. We will be that much better and smarter as a result.'
Once they have their own boat, are they planning a comprehensive rig and sail development programme? 'What do you think?' replies Barnes with a glint of steel in his smile.
'I wake up thinking about sail shapes,' says Dodson. 'I love it. It’s like the old days.'
To see the dinner website click here
For an earlier story on Barnes and Dodson click here
For Sail-World.com's America's Cup Editor, Richard Gladwell's ride on an Emirates Team NZs AC72 click here
by Richard Gladwell
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8:11 PM Thu 28 Mar 2013GMT
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