The Sailing Education Association of Sheboygan (SEAS) teamed up with Blind Sailing Unlimited (BSU), the Women’s International Match Racing Association (WIMRA), and the Edison Sailing Center to hold the second in a series of Blind Match Racing Clinics in the United States using the Homerus acoustic mark system. The clinics are put on to help encourage participation at the 2016 Blind Match Racing World Championship to be held in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, in September. The Bonita Springs Lions Club assisted with funding for the Florida clinic. Blind match racing is unique in the world of blind sailing as the visually impaired sailors race the boats with no sighted assistance onboard. They navigate the course through the use of the Homerus acoustic marks, each making a distinct sound, while each boat also emits a sound based off of which tack the boat is on. Through these audible clues the sailors not only make their way around the course but also engage the other team in classic match racing style.
Five blind sailors and one sighted guide from across the country participated in the clinic held in the Edison Sailing Center’s boats on the Caloosahatchee River.
“I was very impressed to see the steep learning curve of the sailors as they took on the challenges of mastering not only the sailing of the boats with no sighted guides assisting, but also learning the new to them art of match racing” said WIMRA Executive Director, Liz Baylis, who ran the on the water drills and off the water discussions. “I really enjoy working with the visually impaired sailors as it is so rewarding and inspiring to work with athletes that have such a ‘can do’ attitude.”
“We hosted the first clinic in San Francisco last November and many of the sailors from that event returned for this second clinic” said SEAS Program Director Matt Wierzbach. “Their commitment to improvement is contagious and it’s great to see the increase in interest in blind match racing.”
SEAS, Blind Sailing Unlimited, and WIMRA intend to continue hosting clinics through the 2016 season culminating with the Blind Match Racing World Championship to be held in Sheboygan September 19-25.
Coverage of the clinic by Fox 4 News – Ft. Myers