Challenged Sailors San Diego will get back on the water the weekend of Feb. 12 with a new boat and a Mid-Winter Regatta Feb. 27 and 28.
SAN DIEGO一COVID restrictions have lightened up throughout California, opening up the opportunity for sailing enthusiasts to get back to what they love.
For Challenged Sailors San Diego it means it’s back to the feeling of ocean spray in their face, and they are looking forward to sailing their new SKUD-18 from previous member and 2016 Paralympian Ryan Porteous.
Porteus started sailing at 7-years-old out of Mission Bay Yacht Club before an accident on the dock in 2011 left him paralyzed, according to the Team USA website.
Porteus’s dad approached Challenged Sailors, at the time Challenged America, for a solution to get his son back on the water.
Porteus qualified for the U.S. Sailing team in 2013, and the Paralympics in Rio de Janerio in 2016, where he served as the skipper of a mixed two-person SKUD-18 and came in fifth place.
Porteus later turned the Paralympic veteran boat over to Challenged Sailors San Diego as a thank-you for getting him back on the water, said Craig Dennis from Challenged Sailors San Diego’s board of directors.
Dennis joked that Challenged Sailors San Diego now had the fifth-fastest boat in the world.
The non-profit, originally Challenged America before being incorporated in 2016, has a mission to provide “therapeutic and recreational adaptive sailing opportunities for people with disabilities to enhance their dignity, well-being, and independence.” according to the Challenged Sailors San Diego website.
The San Diego-based non-profit has a fleet of eight Martin-16s and their new SKUD-18 that are designed to allow people with physical disabilities to operate and sail a boat on their own.
“They are isolated in a bucket seat and all the lines come right to them, the sheet the halyards, the trim lines. Everything is within arm’s reach while sitting down, that is the only difference between the Martin and other boats,” said Dennis.
Sailors and volunteers are paired together and will hit the water a couple of times a week. Dennis said that pre-COVID they were on the water 100 times a year mainly on Friday and Saturday.
COVID changed the times but these sailors are ready to get back on the water on Feb. 12 when Challenged Sailors San Diego re-opens with new COVID precautions.
Sally Beach, who runs social media as a part of the outreach team, listed off precautions that the non-profit would be taking to ensure the safety of their sailors like temperature checks and mandatory masks.
“We are opening the weekend of the [Feb.] 12 and 13 with COVID protocol, we do have a lot of protocol in place right now,” said Beach.
The non-profit is getting right back into the fray with their Mid-Winter Regatta on Feb. 27 and 28, held at the Coronado Yacht Club.
While sailors do not have to race if they choose not to, there is a healthy spirit of competition at Challenged Sailors San Diego that lends itself to some exciting races.
“They have a challenge; they broke something in the spine or the neck but other than that they are just as good as anyone else.” said Dennis.
Brewster Schneck, a sailor, and director on the board are one of the talented racers to cut through the waters with Challenged Sailors San Diego.
Schneck has been participating with the sailing club for a couple of years and said his favorite part is feeling the wind on his face and what little hair he has left on his head.
Challenged Sailors San Diego sets sail on Friday and Saturday out of Sunroad Marina in San Diego. To learn more, sign up for a sail, or volunteer visit the Challenged Sailors San Diego website at challengedsailors.org.