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Dave Perry Shares Experience Coaching Blind Match Racers

Recently I was fortunate to have the opportunity to run a North U Match Racing Clinic for the vision impaired sailors preparing for the 2016 World Sailing Blind Match Racing World Championship, being held at the Sheboygan Yacht Club in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, September 21-25, 2016, and sponsored by Sail Sheboygan and SEAS. Four teams participated, coming from California, Canada, Great Britain, and a team composed of sailors from Massachusetts and Sheboygan. Though each team had a sighted coach, they race with no sighted person on board. Truly amazing!

The clinic was in the Sonars they are racing in the Worlds, with three sailors to a boat. The skipper is required to be 100% blind, and the two others can have varying degrees of vision impairment. They had some goggles I could wear to experience what their vision ability was like. One common view is like looking through wax paper. You can make out shades and rough shapes, but there is no clarity. The other is like looking down a straw, but the straw is in a different place in each eye. They can see what they see clearly, but it is tiny. And they have no depth perception. Plus, if they lose sight of it, it takes them a while to search around to find it again.

They use two marks to form their starting line, each making a unique sound, and a windward mark with its own sound. They sail the traditional match racing course (W-L-W-Finish), but use the pin end of the starting line as the leeward mark. Each boat has a noise maker which makes a different sound on each tack.

In addition to the sounds of the marks, they have watches that beep and vibrate, and they are talking with each other as normal, so their world onboard is very loud! This is just one of their challenges. Another one is keeping track of where they are. If they lose track of the marks, they can get quite lost. And of course they need to be able to maintain the point of sail on which they want to sail. All this while trying to beat the other boat across the finishing line!

We spent most our time talking boat handling, speed and match racing tactics just like at all my other match racing clinics. We brainstormed ideas to address their challenges, and we had solid three hour training sessions on the water filled with drills, practice starts and races, and lots of feedback. We did a session about the Sonar on the dock, and we simulated the prestart and sailing the course on land, using the marks and doing the walk-throughs in real time. On the water, they were good at sailing the correct angles, the skippers feeling the wind on their heads, the angle of heel, and hearing the boat go through the water, and the trimmers feeling the actual sail and the angle of the boom.

What I loved the most was that every sailor and team was committed to improving, and to sharing their own experiences for the benefit of the others. Everyone’s attitude was that they were a group of sailors trying to get better at sailing and match racing, and their vision was just part of the puzzle to solve to become more successful. Each one of them loves sailing and being out on the water, and the challenge of racing. No different than any of us who love the sport.

To go sailing and racing, all these vision impaired sailors need is an invitation or some support from someone to be included in that person’s sailing experience. My experience with this racing community could not have been more positive. I encourage others to seek out the same positive experience by reaching out and including them as well. It is truly a win-win situation!

4th of July tradition continues to make a splash

It was a beautiful day to celebrate our Independence!  SEAS (Sailing Education Association of Sheboygan) had a great day hosting SEAS Water Sports with sprecherRest.logoSprecher Restaurant & Pub as the sponsor and partnering with EOS Surf Shop.  There were eight pre-built boats and 13 drifter kits built this year.  The riverfront was lined with people to watch the creative designs paddle to the finish, some making it and some not.  The Drifter Division was a spectacular sight with some innovative designs this year making an astonishing appearance through three races to finish in the finals.  A huge Thank You to all the volunteers who helped to make this event happen. Congratulations to all the award winners this year who received certificates and gift cards from Sprecher Restaurant and Pub!

OPEN Division

Best Time: Missile Award

  • Canoe Style Boat – Sea Scouts Old Glory (crew: Charlie Waituus & Cale Carlson)
  • Box Style Boat– Badger State Restoration SS Badger (crew: captain Curtis Voight, Ashley Heinen, Jennifer List & Jill Klos)

Best in Show: The Admiral Award  (Best exemplifies theme)

  • Tanks for Serving: Jessica Ambelang captain (crew: Claire Slattery, Adeline Slattery, Thaddeus Slattery & Antonia Slattery)

Best almost sinking: Poseidon Adventure Award – Finished race with boat upside down

  • SS Marcus: Becky Prestley captain, Marcus Theaters (Crew: Molly Mata, Stephen Nelson & Max Meyers

Most Recycled materials: Blue Bag Award  - 70% of boat made from recycled materials

  • Loose Cannon: Mike Altman captain (crew: Eric Altman, Rachel Altman, Brent Perronne, Russ Munroe & Michelle Walters)

Honorable mentions:

  • Jerry Kramer Offensive line Award for Best Block with a boat: SS Badger, Badger State Restoration (crew: captain Curtis Voight, Ashley Heinen, Jennifer List & Jill Klos)
  • Grande Fromage: The SS Cheese Head (Crew: Charlie Kuehnau, Matt Pradarelli & Josh Pradarelli)


DRIFTER DIVISION – boats built on site with a kit

Best Time: Torpedo Award – Horvat & Sons; Benjamin Horvat & Christopher Horvat

Best sinking: Submarine Award – Chance 2 Dance; Susan Alby & Lisa Brotz

Most Innovative Design Award – The Submarine; Cohen Otte, Brett Steenwyk & Griffin Otte


Honorable mention:

  • Consolation: Super Cow (crew: Nancy Morris, Cal Morris & Jack Morris)


We look forward to the event next year – Mark your calendars to build your boat!

SEAS you on the waterfront!

SEAS Water Sports: Cardboard boat regatta & Paddleboard races

If you’ve been in Sheboygan for the 4th of July, there is a good chance you’ve seen the cardboard boat races on the Riverfront.  You've seen the fabulous sinkings, the amazing designs, and those that have built boats on site with kits. This year, SEAS will be hosting this event and we want you to participate!  How, you ask?

There are many ways to choose from:

  • Build a boat to race prior to the 4th of July
  • Build a boat at the event
  • Gather 3 friends and enter the Paddleboard Relay Race (paddleboard provided)
  • Volunteer for the event – fill out Volunteer Survey
  • Come and watch all the fun at Rotary Riverview Park at noon

This event is a 4th of July tradition.  Thank you to the John Michael Kohler Arts Center for hosting the event the past 30 years.

The event will be renamed as SEAS Water Sports and will continue to have the boat races with the addition of paddleboard races.  The boat building requirements will be slightly changed to incorporate more recycled materials, cardboard being a primary material.  SEAS will also be partnering with Mike Miller, owner of EOS, to conduct the paddleboard races.  Register to participate for building a cardboard boat prior to the event, building at the event or the paddleboard races at

1st Annual Pickle Night Dinner

On November 7th, SEAS and the Sheboygan Yacht Club hosted the first annual Pickle Night Dinner.

"HMS Pickle Replica". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons -

The event, which commemorates Lord Horatio Nelson’s victory in the Battle of Trafalgar and the HMS Pickle’s delivery of the news, was celebrated this year shortly after the 240th anniversary of the battle.


The Pickle Night Dinner is popular at yacht clubs around the country and SEAS was proud to help host the first one in the area. The evening opened with a cocktail hour and a mad-lib style activity that helped prime guests on the history of the HMS Pickle and the Battle of Trafalgar.



Following dinner, Program Director Matt Weirzbach gave an engaging presentation that expanded upon what guests had already learned.


With a terrific turnout from the yacht club and the community, the first annual Pickle Night Dinner was a great success! SEAS looks forward to next year’s dinner and all of the upcoming educational social events.


For more information on upcoming events please visit

Meghan Welsh contributed to this article.


Blind Worlds Update #1 September 8, 2015





After registration the team signs some banners.

Belmont Station Chicago Yacht Club- We have arrived at Belmont Station and have registered this morning. The staff and volunteers have been great and we snuck a short interview in on one of the Sonars with RedEye Chicago before the storms rolled in. Right now we are waiting to see if the storm passes through early enough for us to get some practice on the Tom 28s. If not we still have a practice day tomorrow and the forecast is looking nice.


Rumor has it they are releasing the boats in 10 minutes, we may get out today yet! Matt Wierzbach, Tactician

Screen shot of the radar!!!


For more information please visit these links:

2015 IFDS Blind Sailing World & International Championship Entries


SEAS USA 121 Team

Crew Info

Name Position ISAF Country

Jason Berdyck Headsail Trimmer Group 1 USA
BJ Blahnik Main Trimmer Group 1 USA
Kris Scheppe Helm Group 1 USA
Matthew Wierzbach Tactician USA