Competitive sports are not often in reach for quadriplegics. In sailing, this is not the case. With well-practiced skills and proper equipment, a quadriplegic skipper can sail equally to an able-bodied sailor!
Using an adaptive seating and helming system called The Gold Medal Seating System, I raced in the 2011 C. Thomas Clagett Jr. Memorial Regatta in Newport, Rhode Island. At this première clinic and regatta for disabled sailors, I recieved the Susan B. Johnson Sportsmanship Award and I was coached by 5-time Yachtswoman of the Year and US Sailing Paralympic Coach Betsy Alison. (Please click here for a video about the Clagett and to see the Gold Medal Seating System in action.)
Originally developed by Keith Burhans for his teammate and fellow Sydney Paralympian, Paul Callahan, The Gold Medal Seating System is specifically designed for racing, allowing quadriplegics to competitively helm a Sonar.
The Clagett experience and the coaching with Betsy Alison has strengthened my desire to improve my racing skills, to compete at an elite level, and to campaign in the Sonar class for the honor of representing the United States at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.