Viewing entries tagged
Adaptive Sailing

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!

Leadership Sheboygan County Group supports SEAS

For one the groups that recently graduated from the Leadership Sheboygan County program through the Sheboygan County Chamber, they decided to support SEAS for their group project.  The group, Bailey Dolson, Jeremy Dekker, Chris Weber and Amanda Ehlenbeck, researched several organizations to support and felt the needs at SEAS with it's Adaptive Sailing program was a great fit. After reviewing many options on how they could best raise the most money with the least amount of expense, so more funds come back to the program, they set up a Go Fund Me page which they will promote to reach their goal of $5000.  The amount is designed to provide scholarships to individuals with an interest in learning about sailing, to teach them about sailing and ultimately having them sail.

You can help them reach their goal by sharing this post with your friends and making a contribution yourself.  A little goes a long way, especially when SEAS goal of having 100+ people with adaptive needs learn about sailing and/or sail this summer.

HELP THIS GROUP REACH THEIR GOAL BY HELPING THOSE WITH NEEDS ENJOY THE SAILING EXPERIENCE!

GoFundMeSEAS

 

Blind Match Racing Clinic

November 22, 2015 San Francisco, CA - The Sailing Education Association of Sheboygan (SEAS) teamed up with Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors (BAADS), the Women’s International Match Racing Association (WIMRA), and Blind Sailing Unlimited to hold the first Blind Match Racing Clinic in the United States using the Homerus acoustic mark system. The clinic was run to introduce visually impaired sailors to the blind match racing discipline and to help encourage participation at the 2016 ISAF Blind Match Racing World Championship to be held in Sheboygan in September 2016 in conjunction with the 2016 ISAF Women’s Match Racing World Championship.

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The discipline of blind match racing is unique within the world of visually impaired sailing as the three visually impaired sailors match race against another team with no sighted assistance onboard. They navigate the course through the use of the Homerus Autonomous Sailing System which consists of three acoustic buoys, each emitting a unique sound signal while each boat has its own sound signal that changes when on port or starboard tack.  Through these audible clues the sailors not only make their way around the course but also engage each other in classic match racing style. Sheboygan hosted the Plenco Blind Match Racing World Championship in 2014 and with the success of that event  SEAS looked to increase participation in the discipline by introducing more sailors to the acoustic system.

 

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Of the seven blind sailors and three sighted guides who participated in this weekend’s clinic only one sailor, Blind Sailing Unlimited's, Kris Scheppe, had sailed in a blind match racing event before. “At the Worlds in 2014, I kind of jumped in the deep end having never done a match race before and I went right into a race situation. It was overload and I was kind of hanging by the seat of my pants for that. So, playing with the buoys on land first as we did here and then going to water has been a great way to introduce new sailors to the game” Kris commented after the clinic. Blind Sailing Unlimited owns the set of Homerus marks used at the event, one of only three sets in the United States, SEAS owns another of the three.

 

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All who attended saw improvement in abilities over the three day course which began with land drills and familiarization with the acoustic marks and progressed over the clinic with drills designed to work up to full match races. By Sunday the sailors were battling in the prestarts with limited input from the coaches and racing around the course. While not all the participants felt quite ready for a full match racing regatta, they did come to understand just how possible it was sail without the aid of sight. “It’s fantastic to see how much the sailors improved and gained confidence with only a few days training. By the end of the weekend they were definitely match racing out there and that was really cool to see“ said Liz Baylis, WIMRA Executive Director and clinic coach.

 

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The SEAS team of Executive Director Rich Reichelsdorfer and Program Director Matt Wierzbach, who flew in for the event, were also happy with the progress made at the event. "I am quite happy with the outcome of our first blind match racing clinic," Reichelsdorfer said. "The competitors all seemed quite happy with the program and by the end of clinic, we had them engaging each other and match racing. It is really great to be able to get visually impaired people into match racing and watching them take to it and get excited about sailing without any help from a sighted guide." Wierzbach added, "this is a great step toward increasing participation in an event that really lets the visually impaired sail without being told what to do by a sighted guide; they have control over their sailing."

 

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After the success of this first event, plans are in progress to recreate the event in different locations around the United States and internationally. Blind match racing can be an empowering activity for those with a visual impairment as the sailors realize they are able to compete at a highly competitive level without the aid of sighted guides.

 

ABOUT SEAS

SEAS is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Your contributions are recognized and are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by the United States Tax Code. Thank you for supporting SEAS mission.

Mission

The Sailing Education Association of Sheboygan exists to establish Sheboygan’s waterfront and boating programs as best in class for offerings and facilities, while enhancing our county’s already stellar attractions.

Vision

SEAS works to advance the sailing and water sport facilities on Sheboygan’s waterfront and marine education generally in order to provide more services at a reasonable cost.  We strive to maximize the impact of our donors’ dollars by expanding awareness, training, and opportunities in marine and conservation activities through education and strategic outreach.  SEAS also provides financial assistance to similarly engaged non-profit organizations.

Contact: Matt Wierzbach

mattw@seasheboygan.org

(920) 918-9204

Presentation to the Sheboygan Common Council

On Monday night SEAS Program Director Matt Wierzbach updated the Sheboygan Common Council on the Adaptive Sailing initiative underway. See the presentation beginning at 4:55 min.

Growing our Adaptive Program

 

Beginning with the Blind Match Racing World Championships in 2014 and the resultant development of our blind program both at the Wisconsin State Lions Camp and here at home supporting a team that traveled to Chicago for the Blind Fleet Racing Worlds the Adaptive Program has grown fast. While the blind racing got our foot in the door with Adaptive Sailing the Steve Heronemus Project has led us to, with our partners, create amazing solutions that will help others enjoy sailing in the years to come. Those solutions are already reaching more individuals.

 

The Shaw family poses on the dock after sailing.

 

Last Tuesday we had the Shaw family out for their first sail, a great memory for any family, but with twin boys Mateo and McHale having been born conjoined it increases the challenge. Separated when young the boys have had countless surgeries and some limited mobility but are as adventurous and inquisitive as any nine year old could ever be. The Adaptive Program is more than just sailing.

 

 

Video: Steve Heronemus sails again

For those who have been following the Steve Heronemus story this video tells the tale of his latest voyage. Its more than sailing, more than overcoming challenges, its about three generations bonding through sailing. The video is followed by a transcript and finally a gallery of pictures from the event.

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Transcript


 

Narrator: In January of 2015 Steven Heronemus a sailor who has lived with ALS for over 10 years, joining forces with SEAS to launch an adaptive sailing initiative with a focus on the disabilities rendered by ALS. Its ultimate goal to help those with life altering disabilities experience the freedom and joy of sailing.

On September 4, 2015 using only a bite switch coupled to an autopilot and two touch pads for sail trim Steven Heronemus took his 83 year old father for a sail in a twenty three-foot sonar off the shores of Sheboygan Wisconsin. At the time. he had no idea it would be their last sail together because twelve days later his father unexpectedly passed away.

To Steven the quiet afternoon sail was a joyful return to something he loved. To his father it was one of the most beautiful gifts he could have received from his son. And to other sailors with disabilities it would further inspire SEAS to explorer develop and refine the human interfaces necessary to provide any disabled person access to the wind and water.

On September 23rd the day after his father’s memorial service Steve took his son Matthew for sail as a tribute to his father the man who taught him to sail.

Description: SEAS Team adjusts the boat to Steve.

Steve Orlebeke, Director of Engineering Harken Inc: After we sailed last time it was pretty obvious that the bite switches on the flexible arm were moving around too much because we had to readjust them a couple of times, so I built a more solid bracket that is attached to the head rest. So when the head rest moves, the switches move exactly the same amount and I think that that will work a lot better for Steve. Seems like it’s working so far but we will see how it goes.

Description: Steve’s son Matthew boards the boat and is asked what he thinks of all this to which he replies “exciting”. Matthew is instructed to keep his dad’s chair positioned at a 45 degree angle to the front of the boat that way he can still see his sails and still see the water.

Nick Chadwick, SEAS: A little farther away from the break wall Steve so we don’t touch the bottom of the boat, perfect. Steve at Harken made this new mount for the bite switches that connect to the head rest so it’s very stable now for Steve. That’s the one change since the last time, and then we also have the same cushion that Steve has in his wheel chair a Roku cushion and he’s now sailing and should be able to stay out much longer this time. The sensitivity on one of the buttons that actually trim and ease, the round disk buttons that we have on the chair, one of them was not as sensitive as it was the last time, so we basically managed to jury rig another switch to get him sailing today which he is now using his index finger which seems pretty responsive,

So, this morning before we came down to the yacht club we stopped at the Windway office an met with Aaron and Bob, and Bob is working on this sip-puff joystick that Steve will be able to put is his hand just like he uses his wheel chair joystick in the hope that we can just that one joystick with his one hand to push away to trim in and pull towards to ease and then port and starboard.

Description: Support crew leaves the boat and Steve and his son begin to sail alone.

Steve Orlebeke, Director of Engineering Harken Inc: Well I think definitely we need to do some work with the hand buttons and figure out exactly the right buttons, the touch pad that Nick pulled out of the trailer seems like a pretty good solution. With all of these buttons none of the stuff we are buying is IP rated for this kind of environment so it’s going to be a challenge to keep things from corroding and dealing with moisture, but we will get it figured out.

Narrator: Nobody goes looking of ALS, it just happens. An invariably fatal neurological disorder that attacks the nerve cells responsible for controlling voluntary muscles such as those in the arms legs and face. The condition which over time ceases the very things that we take for granted. The ability to walk, dress, write, speak, swallow and even breathe. Yet over 6,000 people are diagnosed with it every year, and over 30,000 people live with it at any one time. Steven Heronemus has beat the odds despite his inability to talk or even breathe on his own continues to work with SEAS in an effort to bring the joy and freedom of sailing the disabled people everywhere.

SEAS the day! Help make someone’s dream come true. Make a financial or in-kind contribution to SEAS today.

www.seasheboygan.org

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Update: Steve Heronemus Sails Again

Wednesday, September 23  

Yesterday Steve Heronemus made it out for another sail using the adaptive equipment the SEAS and Harken team developed, but it was more than just a second sail with the new equipment. The sail was both a tribute and the continuation of what is now a Heronemus family tradition.

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On Friday, September 4, Steve Heronemus was able to do something he had been unable to do for over a decade, go sailing. Before being diagnosed with ALS, Steve had spent time sailing on Lake Michigan with his father, Dick Heronemus. The SEAS and Harken teams developed an adaptive solution for one of the Sail Sheboygan Sonars which allowed Steve to skipper and trim so Steve and his dad could share a sail together yet again. Tragically, on September 16th Dick Heronemus passed away.

The funeral service concluded on Tuesday and Steve and family remained in Sheboygan to attempt the second sail the next morning. Light winds, too light to effectively sail, kept the boat at the dock but the time was spent discussing future upgrades to the equipment. Planned improvements include the incorporation of a Sip Puff system and other electronic upgrades. These talks were followed by lunch at the Sheboygan Yacht Club where Dick Heronemus had been a longstanding member.

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After some troubleshooting at the dock the team launched in the early afternoon in a light southeast breeze. Just feet off the dock Steve had already taken control of the boat and continued to maneuver out of the harbor with the support crew standing by. As they reached the lighthouse the SEAS support team left the boat to Steve and his son Matt to sail on their own together. A new tradition had begun, and as SEAS board member Tryg Jacobson said, “The torch has been passed”.

 

With the support crew following on a radar equipped safety boat and the rest of the family following on another powerboat Steve and his son were left to sail together on their own for nearly two hours before the wind died enough that the support crew jumped back on board to help with the return trip to the dock. It was another successful trip and a step toward a broader program. IMG_1108 Three generations have now taken advantage of the possibilities opened up with the new equipment. The equipment has enabled a man to once again enjoy his love of sailing, but also allowed a family to share that experience together and in times of pain. This is about more than adaptive sailing.IMG_1109

Steve Heronemus Sails In Memory of His Father

Today Steve Heronemus was able to get out for another sail on the recently adapted Sonar. The moment was bittersweet as Steve's father, Dick Heronemus, passed away last week. The SEAS team made a point to give Steve the opportunity to hit the water today following his father's funeral services yesterday. Our thoughts are with his family during these difficult times.  

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Recap of the 2015 Blind Fleet Racing World Championship

 

The team struggled on Sunday as the breeze was considerably lighter and we had to contend with large wind shifts. At one point a race was abandoned after a series of significant shifts completely turned the fleet around.

 

The British team did well in the lighter conditions and worked their way up on us in the points until we slipped into third. After a near collision with the New Zealand team we began to sail defensively knowing they were near enough to begin attacking us when the opportunity arose. Unfortunately by the time we had begun to dial in the tuning for the lighter conditions the races were abandoned for the day.

 

As a team we are very proud of our performance. This was BJ's first regatta and only second year of sailing and while Jason has been sailing for decades this was also his first regatta above club level. The training we did in August certainly made a difference and our crew work was solid considering our short time sailing together. We are extremely proud to take home a bronze medal and second place in the Squadron Cup.

 

- Matt Wierzbach, Tactician

 

Cumulative Results

Squadron Cup Results

From left: Jason Berdyck, BJ Blahnik, Matt Wierzbach, Kris Scheppe

 

Blind Worlds Update #6 September 12, 2015

bw2015 Saturday was a no go for racing. The weather was too rough.

Today is looking good if not a little light. Two more races needed for a throw out

Matt Wierzbach, Tactician

 

 

Check out this report from WBEZ Chicago

And another from Scuttlebutt Sailing News

bwc

 

For more information please visit these links:

2015 IFDS Blind Sailing World & International Championship Entries

 

SEAS USA  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

 

Blind Worlds Update #5 September 11, 2015

bw2015 Our team is in second place in category 3 after the first five races in strong breeze and wavy conditions. The conditions were so rough we had issues with water filling in the hull and all have bumps and bruises but we preformed well and look forward to the next few days.

We are also in first place for the Squadron Cup which consists of the best national team overall between the 3 categories. We are on one of two U.S. Teams competing for that title.

We rounded out the night with some more Chicago deep dish pizza and are all ready for an early night.

- Matt Wierzbach, Tactician

 

For more information please visit these links:

2015 IFDS Blind Sailing World & International Championship Entries

 

SEAS USA  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

Blind Worlds Update #4 September 10, 2015

bw2015 This morning had a great start with a promising breeze and clear skies but just as the warning signal was to be raised the AP appeared instead and the races were postponed. We waited as the Race Committee dealt with challenging conditions and ultimately storms have kept us off the water. The races have been canceled for the day. The forecast looks like a variety of conditions moving forward.

 

Chicago Weather Radar 9/10/2015

 

The pressure is off until tomorrow, now its time to head into town and waste some time as tourists.

 

- Matt Wierzbach, Tactician

The Sail Sheboygan Sonars sitting in the rain.

 

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

Blind Worlds Update #3 September 9, 2015

bw2015 We had a great day of practice on the water. The winds were variable starting out strong and easing off as the day progressed which helped us experience a variety of conditions. We are seeing the typical choppy conditions that Chicago is famous for.

We also picked up our jackets this morning!

"SEAS Adaptive Sailing Team" Jackets have arrived and the team models them at the event!

The opening ceremonies were great and the Chicago Yacht Club had a nice burger and hot dog buffet laid out. Now its time for the real racing to start. We are looking forward to tomorrow!

 

- Matt Wierzbach, Tactician

 

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

 

BJ Interviewed by RedEye Chicago

bw2015 Sheboygan sailor BJ Blahnik conducted an interview with RedEye Chicago yesterday before practice.

Here is what he had to say: RedEye Chicago

BJ Blahnik and Matt Wierzbach prepare for practice.

 

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

 

Blind Worlds Update # 2 September 8, 2015

bw2015 September 8, 2015

 

Shortly after my first post we managed to get out on the water for our first taste of sailing the Tom 28. We started slow at the dock familiarizing ourselves with the boat, BJ and Kris feeling everything in their section of the boat to prepare for our time on the water.

 

The Tom 28s are a more performance oriented boat than the Sonar and getting used to the layout and heel took a bit of time. The sail area is also larger which will take some small adjustment moving forward. Luckily none of the teams are overly familiar with the boats and the extra room in the cockpit makes the movement of four sailors slightly less like a round of bumper cars than in the Sonar cockpit.

 

We did a bit of speed testing with four of the Tom’s out in a formation. We are confident we can do well with our speed and its looking likely that good starts and roundings are going to make the difference just like in any other race. What I’ve learned from sailing with the blind teams is that we have to stop thinking of it as a different form of sailing; the sailing is the same and the changes for safety are really minor and have more to do with avoiding collisions than anything.

 

After the required Chicago deep dish pizza for dinner we made a quick stop at Target to pick up a few snacks and ran into our big fan Chewbacca who is looking forward to his new movie release.

 

Chewbacca cheers on the team.

Chewbacca cheers on the team.

 

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

Blind Worlds Update #1 September 8, 2015

  bw2015

 

 

 

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

 

Steve's Voyage - New Video

Adaptive Sailing Success Story Steve has had ALS for over 10 years. Prior to contracting ALS, Steve sailed with his father Richard Heronemus who was a very active member of the Sheboygan Yacht Club. He is an accomplished sailor. Despite his disease he continues follow sail boat racing worldwide. It is his passion, which makes this particular journey quite meaningful.

As Steve's ALS has progressed, Steve may have lost nearly all of the ability to use his arms and legs, but certainly not his will to sail. He has a slight use of his middle left finger and has enough shoulder movement in his right shoulder to activate switches to steer the boat. He also has the use of his jaw, which will enable him to activate bite switches to trim and ease his sails. Both the steerage and trim systems were inspired by Steve Heronemus, and collaboratively developed by Steve Orlebek at Harken and Nick/Rich/Matt at Windway.

http://youtu.be/WvyijvS62uA

Sailor overcomes ALS

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Matt Wierzbach

mattw@seasheboygan.org

(920)918-9204

September 4th, 2015

 

SAILING WITH ALS

 

SHEBOYGAN, WI - The Sailing Education Association of Sheboygan (SEAS) took a major step forward in their adaptive sailing program. Steve Heronemus, a sailor with advanced stage ALS was able to sail on his own thanks to a collaborative effort between SEAS, Sail Sheboygan, Harken, and an extensive team of dedicated individuals. The collaboration has not only given Steve an opportunity to enjoy sailing again, but it is a major step to providing enriching experiences on Lake Michigan to a new group of individuals.

 

Today was the result of a nine month project that began with Tryg Jacobson meeting Steve and being inspired by his story. Tryg, a long time sailor himself, was inspired by Steve and questioned if it were possible to develop an equipment package to get Steve sailing again. From that idea came a long series of e-mails and phone calls and the development began.

 

The first challenge to overcome was how to safely and comfortably get Steve on the water. While the idea of purchasing a new boat specifically for this project was originally posed it was quickly dropped in favor of adapting a Sonar currently in the Sail Sheboygan fleet.  Sonars are a stable boat often used in adaptive sailing programs and major events such as the Paralympic games. The use of a Sonar allowed the project to move forward immediately.

 

It then was a challenge to find a seating solution for Steve who would not be able to sit in the boats original moulded seats. The solution came from a contact SEAS Program Director Matt Wierzbach made at the US Sailing Programs Symposium. Magnus Liljedahl from Team Paradise out of Miami had constructed what he called a “Lazy Susan” bench for the Sonar to be used for the foredeck position at the front of the boat. It was decided to build a version of the “Lazy Susan” in Sheboygan and Sail Sheboygan Bosun, Nick Chadwick, set to building with help from Tony Orlebeke and Britt Voechting. It was this chair that was used in June to give Steve his first sailing experience since before his ALS diagnosis. While the chair provided the opportunity to experience sailing as a passenger the goal still remained to develop a way for him to control the boat himself.

 

SEAS Executive Director Rich Reichelsdorfer and Tryg then brought in Steve Orlebeke and his team from Harken in to work toward developing the system required for Steve to operate the boat on his own. Harken out of Pewaukee Wisconsin specializes in marine technology and their electric winch proved to be the ideal solution to replace the manual role of sail trim. The winch, when hooked up to electric switches can trim and ease the sails to their proper position, something Steve is unable to do without their help. They modified a marine autopilot to allow steering in using a similar set-up, all led forward to the chair.

 

Despite foggy conditions this morning the weather cleared enough by 11 AM for the team to get out onto the water. Five support boats followed the Sonar out onto Lake Michigan filling roles from safety boat and video to a spectator boat for the family. After Steve had familiarized himself with the boat the support staff and boats backed off and Steve was able to sail alone on the boat. After sailing for around an hour on his own his father, tears in his eyes was the first to rejoin him on the boat.

 

After returning to the dock many of those who had worked on the project gathered for a short ceremony in which Steve was presented a new award, named in his honor, to be presented for the advancement of adaptive sailing. The boat will be available for Steve to sail for the remainder of the season before the team takes another look at the system over the winter to refine the system.

 

Combined with a blind team leaving for the Blind Fleet Racing World Championship in Chicago next week this has proven the commitment set last year by SEAS to develop an Adaptive Sailing Program here in Sheboygan. Breaking barriers to sailing and providing opportunities to enjoy the water for all those interested is not only a dream but now a reality.

 

ABOUT SEAS

SEAS is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Your contributions are recognized and are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by the United States Tax Code. Thank you for supporting SEAS mission.

Mission

The Sailing Education Association of Sheboygan exists to establish Sheboygan’s waterfront and boating programs as best in class for offerings and facilities, while enhancing our county’s already stellar attractions.

Vision

SEAS works to advance the sailing and water sport facilities on Sheboygan’s waterfront and marine education generally in order to provide more services at a reasonable cost.  We strive to maximize the impact of our donors’ dollars by expanding awareness, training, and opportunities in marine and conservation activities through education and strategic outreach.  SEAS also provides financial assistance to similarly engaged non-profit organizations.

For more information on SEAS please visit seasheboygan.org.

SEAS Adaptive Sailing Advancement

st This video documents the sea trials of adaptive sailing advancements in outfitting a sailboat to allow a man with ALS to sail again.  Check it out.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKHqkPr8aCw