The U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico were represented at the 2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup in Miami, Florida, bringing together the world’s top Olympic and Paralympic class competitors. Nine countries competed in the three Paralympic class events: 2.4mR (one person), SKUD 18 (two persons – one man, one woman) and the three-person Sonar. The latter being the boat sailed by the U.S. Virgin Islands’ team.
The new USVI Team comprised David Flaherty, Tony Sanpere and Bob Blackwell, along with their coach, six-time Olympian John Foster. From Puerto Rico, the ever-cheerful Julio ‘Papote’ Reguero was there in his 2.4mR. In 2008 Reguero qualified for the Paralympic Sailing Regatta in China.
A week with the Paralympic sailors is an interesting and uplifting experience.
All the sailors assembled at the Shake-A-Leg location in Coconut Grove; South Florida’s premier adaptive watersports community serving people of all abilities. Also located here is Team Paradise, founded by Olympic Gold Medalist Magnus Liljedahl. Team Paradise is a non-profit organization working to introduce people with disabilities to the sport of sailing and also to develop athletes for the Paralympic Summer Games.
The sailors at this year’s World Cup had a week of adapting to very light and variable winds on Biscayne Bay. Many mornings were spent sitting around, trying to make the most of it; chatting, laughing and playing pranks. On the final day, the race committee (and sailors) made a gallant attempt to get in some racing; but the hazy, humid day with light airs made it impossible and the honors were given based on the previous day’s performance. The 2014 2.4mR gold medal went to Megan Pascoe of Great Britain. Britain’s Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell captured gold in the SKUD 18, while Bruno Jourdren, Eric Flageul and Nicolas Vimont Vicary of France were victorious in the Sonar.
Paralympic Sailing made its official Paralympic debut at Sydney 2000 with two events; a one-person boat and a three-person boat. The events were open to both male and female competitors with the host nation’s Noel Robins, Jamie Dunross and Graeme Martin taking the first Sonar gold and Heiko Kroger winning the first 2.4mR gold medal for Germany. The 2.4mR and Sonar carried forward to Athens 2004. The two person SKUD 18 was introduced for the Beijing Paralympics in 2008. The first gold medal in this event went to the USA Team of Nick Scandone and Maureen McKinnon-Tucker.
The next Paralympic Regatta will take place at the C. Thomas Clagett, Jr. Memorial Clinic & Regatta in Newport, R.I., June 12-15 2014.
The International Federation of Disabled Sailors (IFDS) Worlds 2014, will take place at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron from August 15 – 24 2014. This is the first of two qualifying events for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Sailing Competition … and we intend to be there!