By Margaret Jaberg
MCSC is an organization that seeks, as part of its mission, to bring non-traditional boaters into the world of sailing by making Lake Michigan accessible to everyone. We were able to do that this summer when we hosted the 2013 US Disabled Sailing Championship.
We really weren’t sure what we had taken on when we were awarded the regatta. MCSC provides their Adaptive Sail Program to Milwaukee’s disabled residents, but it doesn’t really have a race program. In our fleet of over 90 boats, only four have motors, and those are for the instructors to use. We knew we needed help!
For that week in September, the entire Milwaukee bay came together to help host. South Shore Yacht Club was especially helpful with boats and volunteers. PC Cookie Mueller and John Archibald were an amazing team as regatta co-chairs, rallying all sorts of help from their extended SSYC family!
Thanks to everyone who pitched in that weekend, we were able to introduce racers from around the country to Lake Michigan sailing. As competitor Cindy Walker (Piers Park Sailing Center, MA) said, “When I first heard the championship was being held in Milwaukee, I didn’t really know what to expect, but the sailing out on Lake Michigan has been great. I especially like that being in fresh water, you’re not constantly getting salt in your eyes when waves hit.”
The regatta featured a classification session to get more disabled sailors ranked for competition, a racing clinic with U.S. Sailing Team Paralympic coach Betsy Alison, and seven races completed over three days. On Sunday night Sarah Everhart Skeels and Gerry Tiernan (Sail Newport/Sail Maine) took home the Chandler Hovey, Jr. trophy racing double handed in the Ideal 18’s. In the 2.4mR singlehanded class, John Ruf (Pewaukee Yacht Club), the only athlete from Wisconsin to enter, took home the Judd Goldman trophy.
A few numbers from the event:
- 16 competitors registered in two classes, the Ideal 18 and 2.4mR
- 10 boats with over 40 volunteers were out on Lake Michigan each day to assist the Race Committee
- 5 volunteer AB’s (able bodied assistants) rode along on the Ideal 18’s each day
- 138 individuals and 12 businesses contributed financially to the championship
- 37 dockside volunteers gave over 2,250 hours of service during regatta week handling equipment, first aid and meals
- 5 members of boy scout Troop 393 assisted our “green team” to earn a Silver Certificate from Sailors for the Sea
- 65 attended the “Welcome to Wisconsin” BBQ Thursday night featuring local products such as Sprecher Root beer, Miller products, brats, Henning Cheese and Gardetto’s snacks
- 87% of the dollars spent by MCSC to prepare for and run the regatta went to businesses based in Wisconsin, including 4 women owned entities
- The regatta was covered by all four networks on TV, three different stories in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Sports page, and aired on one radio station
- Governor Scott Walker declared September 5-8, 2013 as “Disabled Sailing Week” in Wisconsin; County Executive Chris Abele and Mayor Tom Barrett signed local Proclamations
This regatta had unique challenges but an awesome story to tell. We’re grateful the greater Milwaukee boating community came together for this championship, and especially thankful to everyone at SSYC who participated.