Byline: Ambrosia Brody
SAN DIEGO — When Urban Miyares was a young boy, he dreamed of sailing around the world. His entry in the 2013 Transpacific Yacht Race — a 2,225-mile ocean adventure — puts him just a little closer to accomplishing his goal.
In July, Miyares and David Hopkins will race against some of the world’s most famous sailors — and some of the largest and fastest boats — in a transpacific crossing. The race starts off Point Fermin in Los Angeles and ends off Diamond Head, east of Honolulu.
Together, the vets will shatter the concept that the race is impossible or too challenging for sailors with disabilities to complete. Sailing in the race allows the two to live the mission that Miyares’ organization is founded on: making dreams a reality.
“It’s been one of my dreams to sail around the world, so this is a preliminary for me — to see if I really can do it,” said Miyares, co-founder of Challenged America, a therapeutic sailing organization founded in 1987.
Based at San Diego’s Harbor Island, Challenged America offers year-round no-charge learn-to-sail opportunities for children, adults and veterans with disabilities. The organization uses sailing to help disabled sailors build self-confidence, develop new skills and abilities and stimulate independence.
In 2003 and 2005, Miyares competed in Transpac with Team Challenged America. This will be his first time competing double-handed: a new and welcome challenge for the San Diego resident.
Miyares, a blind and multidisabled Vietnam veteran; and Hopkins, a Navy veteran with a service-related hearing impairment, aim to finish the race in 12 days.
“We’ve been trying to attract a large boat donation for the Transpac for the past few years,” Miyares said. “And although we’ve been close to receiving some large racing vessels from 50 to 70 feet in length, we’ve decided not to wait any longer and do this race now, with our Tripp 40 B’Quest.”
Challenged America sailed on B’Quest during the 2003 and 2005 Transpac, completing the race in 13 days.
B’Quest has been hauled out at Shelter Island Boatyard, where it is undergoing major modifications in preparation for race day. The vessel will be “slimmed down,” with a telescoping bowsprit, and roller-furling and asymmetrical sails and rigging installed.
“With the quickly advancing technology of just the past few years, we will hopefully be including the latest in electronics and other devices, such as sound-output, so Urban can more comfortably handle communications and navigation,” Hopkins said. “But I’m sure Urban will have his Braille compass handy to check on our course.”
Challenged America is attempting to procure a larger vessel donation, so that more disabled sailors can compete in next year’s race. Until then, Miyares and Hopkins serve as inspiration for others.
“I have a passion for helping others understand that just because you have a disability, that doesn’t mean you can’t compete in an able-bodied world,” Miyares said. “Our program is primarily a therapy to help people get back into society, start feeling good about themselves and to show them what they are still capable of doing with their new minds and bodies.”
For more information, or to sponsor Team Challenged America in the 2013 Transpac Race, contact Urban Miyares or David Hopkins at Challenged America, 955 Harbor Island Drive, Suite 130, San Diego; (619) 523-9318; email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, visit challengedamerica.org.