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Lake Michigan

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!

SEAS Classroom

Your sailing and boating training starts here!

Whether it is sailing or powerboating, SEAS has a class that will help you learn the basics of sailing, operating a powerboat and how to handle a safety & rescue situation properly.

 

SEAS is offering classes throughout July and August to help you enjoy the water. It's never to late to start.

  • July 30 – Accelerated Powerboat Handling
  • July 31 – Safety and Rescue Boat Handling
  • Aug. 13-14 – Accelerated Keelboat Fundamentals

 

Signup today to get started.  Details & registration at www.seasheboygan.or/events

Rochelle Pennington Joins SEAS for Two Co-Sponsored Events

For the third year, Rochelle Pennington visited Sheboygan as SEAS (Sailing Education Association of Sheboygan) guest, speaking at two co-sponsored events. Both gatherings were held on Saturday, November 28, 2015, the first was cosponsored by, and took place at the Sheboygan Yacht Club.  Guests were invited to decorate Christmas cookies while sipping on seasonal beverages prior to Rochelle’s presentation on one of the most well-known shipwrecks of the Great Lakes, Lake Michigan's Christmas Tree Ship. The Christmas Tree Ship delivered holiday evergreens to the citizens of Chicago each Christmas season before it was caught in the "Great Storm of 1912" and subsequently went to the bottom of the lake fully loaded with trees.

Later that evening, a stellar crowd of upwards of 150 attendees joined Rochelle at Blue Harbor for her newest presentation commemorating the 40th anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald.  Blue Harbor cosponsored this event offering a warm, lake views reception area with complimentary light hors d’oeuvres.

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With the famous Gordon Lightfoot song kicking off the presentation, guests were lead along the pathway the famous ship would take through Lake Superior, with Rochelle offering a travel log of the geographical highlights in the area.

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Details were shared regarding the history of the Edmund Fitzgerald, as well as scripted dialogue acted-out by Rochelle between the captains of the sinking ship and that of the Arthur M. Anderson during the ship’s ultimate demise.

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Rochelle engaged the group with personal stories, and pictures of visits she had made along the Lake Superior shore, adding a personal touch to the gathering.

 

Article Text : Meghan Welsh

Photos: Quentin Blacklock

Public Input Meeting: THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 19TH

Be in the know! Learn about the Marine Sanctuary. You're invited to the Marine Sanctuary Public Input Meeting

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 19TH 6:30 PM TO 8:30 PM

University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan Main Building Wombat Room (Room 2114) 1 University Drive, Sheboygan

FREE TO ATTEND !

Register Here

 

We Want to Hear From You!

NOAA is asking for the public's input on protecting Wisconsin - Lake Michigan, a maritime heritage resource area in Wisconsin as a national marine sanctuary.

Wisconsin - Lake Michigan is an 875 square mile area of Lake Michigan with waters extending from Port Washington to Two Rivers. The state of Wisconsin nominated this area as a national marine sanctuary through the Sanctuary Nomination Process with broad community support.

The primary objective of a sanctuary is to protect its natural and cultural features while allowing people to use and enjoy the waterways in a sustainable way. Sanctuary waters provide a secure habitat for species close to extinction and protect historically significant shipwrecks and artifacts. Sanctuaries serve as natural classrooms and laboratories for schoolchildren and researchers alike to promote understanding and stewardship of our waters. They often are cherished recreational spots for sport fishing and diving, and support commercial industries such as tourism, fishing and kelp harvesting.

 

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 19TH 6:30 PM TO 8:30 PM

University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan Main Building Wombat Room (Room 2114) 1 University Drive, Sheboygan

FREE TO ATTEND !

 

Register Here

 

 

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

 

From Sea to Space

From Sea to SpaceSaturday, May 9, 2015

10:00 AM to 3:00 PM

SEAS and Spaceport Sheboygan are proud to present a FREE Public Open House and National Marine  Sanctuary Symposium. Come explore Spaceport Sheboygan during this FREE ADVENTURE OPEN HOUSE featuring presentations and exhibits about Wisconsin’s National Marine Sanctuary Nomination! Events and workshops for all ages!

Click here for the schedule: From Sea to Space