Byline: The Log Staff
NEWPORT BEACH — More than 180 visually impaired men and women will set sail in Newport Harbor Oct. 20, as part of American Legion Yacht Club’s annual Sail for the Visually Impaired event.
Sailboats will be piloted by skippers from throughout Southern California — and often the skipper will offer the opportunity for participants to take the helm themselves and steer the boat under supervision.
“It’s the kind of event where everyone leaves exhausted but with a big smile on their face,” said Jess Lawson, commander of American Legion Post 291. “Everyone has a great time — including the (assistance) dogs. It’s a great day for all involved.”
The event started in 1990 when members of the Women’s Ocean Racing Sailing Association (WORSA) took 15 blind people sailing on a 40-foot sailboat. Each year, they took more people out and enlisted more skippers to assist.
Now in its 22nd year, the event is sponsored by WORSA, hosted by the American Legion Post 291 and organized by American Legion Yacht Club. This year, more than 180 blind or visually impaired adults and their escorts will spend the day sailing with volunteers from around Newport Harbor, WORSA and American Legion Post 291 family.
A play yard has been set up for the guide dogs to relax and play while their owners go out on the water. Groups from all over Southern California volunteer for the event, including local skippers with their boats, Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops, police cadets, along with WORSA and American Legion YC. After their trip, participants are treated to lunch and live entertainment.
Approximately 45 skippers and boats from the community are needed for the event, and more than 150 volunteers are needed to act as escorts, servers, crew, guide dog sitters and more.
Sailing will begin at 9 a.m. from American Legion Post 291, 215 15th St.
Boat owners, skippers and those looking to volunteer can call (949) 673-5002 or (949) 673-5070. For more information, call Frank Reinhart, event chairman, at (949) 933-3420.