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International Blind Keelboat League 2023 at Rutland Sailing Club

by Bill Stillman 21 Nov 2023 03:10 PST 16-19 November 2023
International Blind Keelboat League at Rutland © RSC

Reviving Global Blind Sailing

Rutland Sailing Club, in collaboration with Blind Sailing UK, proudly concluded the 2023 International Blind Keelboat League, a groundbreaking event that showcased the resilience, skill, and camaraderie of six international blind sailing teams. Under the strategic leadership of Lucy Hodges MBE, Commodore of Blind Sailing UK and European representative for Blind Sailing International, this competition not only marked a triumphant return for Blind Sailing globally but also demonstrated the potential of adaptive sports on an international stage.

The Visionaries Behind the Event

Lucy Hodges MBE, an advocate for blind sailing, envisioned a world where visually impaired individuals could passionately engage in sailing. Her commitment materialized through the relentless efforts of David Wilkins, whose unwavering dedication brought this exceptional event to fruition.

Meet the Exceptional Teams

The participating teams showcased remarkable talent, determination, and sportsmanship.

Australia Lost at Sea:

  • Kylie Forth
  • Kiara Parkinson
  • Erin McGlew
  • Del Kilcullen

French Freedom:

  • Olivier Ducruix
  • Nicolas Rondouin
  • Fabienne Rassat
  • Gilles Guyon
  • Marine Clogenson

GBR 0% Risk:

  • Jonny Cormack
  • Ian Shirra
  • Vic Sheen
  • Sally Rodrigues

GBR Gravity:

  • Jonny Stevenson
  • Steve Tylecoote
  • Lucy Hodges
  • Toby Davey

GBR Barons:

  • Colin Midgley
  • Gareth Robinson
  • Chris Albert
  • Martin Philips

GBR Challengers:

  • Malcolm James
  • Sarah Featherstone
  • Pat Beukenholdt
  • Neil Brooks

Four Days of Unforgettable Competition

From the 16th to the 19th, teams faced varying weather conditions, showcasing their adaptability and skill. The training day allowed sailors to familiarize themselves with the boats, crucial for blind sailors who rely on heightened senses.

Despite the UK's challenging weather, teams embraced the light winds on Friday, engaging in intense races. GBR Gravity claimed an early lead, closely pursued by GBR Barons. The sponsorship from Athletic Brewing and Hogan's Cider added a refreshing touch to each day's conclusion.

Friday evening's welcome dinner provided a platform for inspiring speeches from key figures, including Richard Moxey (RYA Keelboat Development Manager), David Wilkson (Event Manager), and Lucy Hodges MBE (Commodore of Blind Sailing UK).

Day 2: Navigating Stronger Winds

Saturday brought stronger winds, presenting new challenges. GBR Gravity continued their dominance, showcasing exceptional teamwork and strategic sailing. The day concluded with sailors gathering for a celebratory evening filled with singing, camaraderie, and discussions about the day's triumphs.

The Final Day

The final day saw winds reaching 23 knots, testing the teams' abilities. All teams showed amazing boat handling skills and pushed each start looking for that lead and control from the gun. GBR Gravity, with consistent wins and impeccable racing, emerged as the clear overall winners. The final standings reflected the exceptional performance:

Final Standings:

1. GBR Gravity
2. GBR Barons
3. GBR 0% Risk

Overall Helm Winners:

B1 Helm: Vicki Sheen
B2 Helm: Lucy Hodges MBE
B3 Helm: Chris Albert

Gratitude and Acknowledgments

The organizers extend heartfelt thanks to all volunteers, RYA Sailability, and sponsors, including KSail, RYA, British Keelboat League, Rooster, RS Sailing, Athletic Brewing, Hogan's Cider, ARB Tree and Garden Solutions, Rutland Sailing Club, Rutland Sailability, and The Outlook Trust.

Special recognition goes to David Wilkins for his instrumental role in bringing this extraordinary event to life.

For more detailed information and updates, please visit www.gbrblindsailing.co.uk

See also photo gallery from the event

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