June 6, 2013
The IFDS Blind Sailing World and International Championships 2013, organized by Seabournia Yacht Club in Sagawa Bay, Miura Peninsula, Japan has come to a close.
Neither the sailors, nor the many volunteers are soon to forget such an exciting event. The Race Committee managed to complete 15 races over five days of competition, in winds varying from light to sufficiently strong to cancel racing.
After Classification into one of the three Vision Impaired Classes (B1, B2, B3) the 38 blind or vision impaired sailors and their 38 crewmembers set out for the competition. Amazed spectators and competent press photographers watched the scene, as the blind skippers helmed the boats with vocal guidance of the tactician, the sails being trimmed by the vision impaired crew on the mainsheet, and a sighted crew manning the jib.
The second day provided for some exciting racing as gusty winds and short steep waves made for tricky sailing. As the fleet prepared to start the last race of the day, boat 17 collided with another, but despite considerable damage was able to cross the start line, on its way to two more contacts. Approaching the windward mark the same boat collided with a boat coming downwind before getting T-boned by the following downwind boat.
After supplying 19 very balanced J 24s, the organizers even managed to provide another two boats to replace those that could not sail anymore, just one of the many examples of the dedication and quality of the Organizing Committee.
By day three, the International Jury had handled 20 protests, but after that, sailors managed to keep the competition on the water.
On the last day of racing and under sunny skies, Her Imperial Highness Hisako Takamado cheered the sailors from the bridge of the 57 foot Lagoon catamaran supplied by event sponsor Rivera Resort.
As the sailors came ashore, they were welcomed by the smiling Princess who chatted with them in perfect English, sharing an unexpected sense of humour.
Lovely stained glass trophies, made by persons with learning disabilities working in the small “People Factory’ in Tokyo rewarded the top sailors in each category.
In the B1 fleet, prizes went to teams headed by Sharon Grennan (GBR), Kylie Forth (AUS) and Matt Chao (USA).
B2 winners were Lucy Hodges (GBR) followed by David Allerton (NZL) and Keiko Ogura (JPN).
The B3 fleet was dominated respectively by Tony Holmes (NZL), Liam Cattermole (GBR) and Takahito Mochizuki (JPN).
More information available on the website.