NEWPORT, R.I. – Adhering to the adage that “practice makes perfect,” the sailors who will represent the USA and Canada at the 2008 Paralympic Games are going head-to-head at the sixth annual C. Thomas Clagett Jr. Memorial Regatta for the next few days as they vie for one last championship title before their first races begin in China just 20 days from now. Joining the sailors with disabilities racing in the 2.4 Metre, SKUD-18 and Sonar classes are the visually impaired sailors who are utilizing Sail Newport’s fleet of J/22s to race for their 2008 Blind Sailing National Championship. Leaving their service dogs and wheelchairs behind on the docks at Rhode Island’s Public Sailing Center, the competitors got down to business on the race course set between Goat and Rose Islands, just south of the Newport bridge.
The Sonar class was first in the rotation for day one with the class’ reigning disabled sailing world champions — Rick Doerr (Clifton, N.J.), Tim Angle (Somerville, Mass.) and Bill Donohue (Brick, N.J.) — winning the first three races of the series. Skipper Ken Kelly with crew Don Terlson and Mark Shaw (all Victoria, B.C.) won the fourth race before the USA’s Paralympic Sonar team picked up the win in the final race of the day to cement their position as overall leaders with six points to the nine held by the Canadian Paralympic sailors.
In the SKUD-18s, the skiffs that make their Paralympic debut in China, Maureen McKinnon-Tucker (Marblehead, Mass.) – the USA’s Paralympic crew in the class – raced with her husband Dan Tucker who is substituting for skipper Nick Scandone (Fountain Valley,Calif.). The Tuckers finished third overall behind fleet leaders Scott Whitman (Brick, N.J.) and Julia Dorsett (West Chester, Penn.), who won three of today’s four races and have five points to the 10 held by John McRoberts and Stacie Louttit (both Victoria, B.C.), Canada’s Paralympic representatives in this event who are currently second in the overall standings.
In the 2.4 Metre class, Canada and the USA’s representatives to China are tied after four races were completed in their five-boat fleet. Paul Tingley (Halifax, Nova Scotia) and John Ruf (Pewaukee, Wisc.) have eight points apiece while Charles Rosenfield (Woodstock, Conn.) is third overall with 12 points.
With just two days of racing scheduled to determine the 2008 Blind Sailing National Champions, Sengil Inkiala (Watertown, Mass.) and Nancy Jodoin (West Brookfield, Mass.), sailing with sighted guides Ken Legler (Redding, Mass.) and Harry Berman (Hull, Mass.), hold a slim two-point lead over defending champion Matt Chao (Boston, Mass.). Chao is racing with Deborah Keating (Woburn, Mass.) and sighted guides Peter Frisch (Swampscott, Mass.) and Tom Winston (Charlestown, Mass.). Jason Wallenstein (Quincy, Mass.) with Mark Bos (Gloucester, Mass.) and sighted sailors Bill Rapp (Rockport, Mass.) and Lisa O’Connor (Hull, Mass.) won one race to finish the day five points out of first place with 13 points after five races in the J/22s.
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