Viewing entries tagged
Sheboygan Yacht Club

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

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.


Winner! Sisters Under Sail Scholarship


SHEBOYGAN, WI - The Sailing Education Association of Sheboygan (SEAS) and The Sheboygan Yacht Club are happy to announce Victoria Rietbrock, of Sheboygan, has won the Sisters Under Sail Scholarship. A consolation prize, donated by the Sheboygan Youth Sailing Club, of two books and free sailing course has been awarded to Jordyn Schipper, of Oostburg.

SEAS and the Sheboygan Yacht Club would like to thank all the wonderful young women who applied as well as those who helped support this scholarship opportunity. The candidates have shown just how many amazing young women we have in our community who work hard not only to achieve their own dreams but also help others along the way.

We hope to provide this opportunity again in 2016!