SEAS hosts Blind Fleet Championships

This past weekend Sail Sheboygan and SEAS hosted the 2017 US Sailing Blind Fleet Racing Nationals and North American Championships. The event brought four teams to the Sheboygan Lakefront for competitive racing.

Blind fleet racing consists of two blind or visually impaired sailors filling the role of skipper and main trimmer with a sighted crew allowed to trim the jib and a tactician limited to verbal communication. Unlike blind match racing that requires sound making devices on the boats and marks the fleet race can be conducted the same as an able bodied fleet race through the help of the sighted guides. Sheboygan experimented with the sound marks to see if they will provide fair additional aid to the competitors.

Six races were held between Friday and Saturday. The weather stalled racing on both Saturday and Sunday with fog and high winds. “You never know what the weather will be like on the Lake. We want to give the teams the opportunity to get in as many races as possible. This time the weather didn’t cooperate but everyone was glad we got five races in on Friday”, said regatta chairman Matt Wierzbach of SEAS.

Sponsors were: Walter Raineri, Dierkes Law Office, Kirk Obear Attorney at Law, Sheboygan Paint Company, Ken & Denise Cornell, Michou Reichelsdorfer, Paul & Beth Bartelt, Darrick & Lisa Hartman and Geoff & Kate Rudolph.

The teams racing and placement were as follows:

First Place: Skipper Pauline Dowell, Christian Thaxton, Leo Gaskell, and Grace Olsen representing Boston United Blind Sailing (BUBS)

Second Place: Skipper Kris Scheppe, Katherine Kern, Jim Thweatt and Juju Senfft representing Blind Sailing Unlimited, Bay Area Assn. of Disabled Sailors (BAADS) and BUBS

Third Place: Skipper Scott Ford, Larry Carlin, Rachelle Ponce and Guy Mossman representing Warrior Sailing

Skipper Walter Raineri, BJ Blahnik, Andrew Wilkinson and Jason Berdyck representied BAADS and Visually Impaired Sailing Institute of North America

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