Post Rio 2016/2017
I am not sure where to begin this piece. A lot has gone on since my last Blog written to you from Rio. As many of you know, I was hugely disappointed with my Para Games effort. Finishing 4th was not where I wanted to be after all the boat building, design, re-design, training, racing, fundraising, traveling and cheap hotels. I had been totally consumed living and breathing every waking moment to what I thought would be a podium finish.
Back to Earth…
I arrived home with some big questions. I still had a serious problem coping, my head space was just not right. It was no longer about the ‘Pressure of the Games’ Long story short is that I changed my Cancer meds before I went down to Rio. One of the side effects from my last drug Tarceva, which had saved my life, was open sores. I could not risk sailing in the polluted Rio waters, and with a new, compatible drug now available I switched over. Note to self, new drugs, new problems, bigger ones, and feeling pretty stupid.
I am not sure if I solely blew the Games or not with these drugs, but they certainly did not help at all in Rio. It was a huge relief to find out that I was not going crazy, losing my memory etc. Since the Games and with the support of my Oncologist I have decided to stop all of my Cancer Meds. It’s been 10 long years and I want to feel my body again. I am back to monthly tests which so far are all very normal, and I hope to say I am in remission very soon. Every day I feel my mind clearing.
Life is getting better
Over the next few months I had to test myself and my abilities on and off the water again. During the Games, I had some good races and great wins but these were followed up with really poor races and my head not even close to being in the game. My course management was off all together. Erratic!
Kanaloa arrived back into Miami from Rio mid-November 2016. I had only 2 days to be rigged and ready to compete in my 1st post Games Regatta in Clearwater.
It went really well. I won the regatta. I felt I could still do this and enjoy it. It’s hard to believe that I had been on the verge of packing up my 2.4rM Campaign for good.
You can read more about it here: http://www.ussailing.org/disabledchamps16-final/
CanAm 2.4 Series…
This was a newly created Series of 6 Regattas to be held over Winter in Florida. First up on the list was America’s Disabled/Open Regatta, December 2-4 in St Pete. I had a row of 1st places and a DNF because of a rudder line breaking. This was another confidence building result for me. My head was definitely getting clearer all the time.
Great racing with Allan in the NA’s
The 2.4 North American’s were next in Port Charlotte the following week. The competition was great. I was able to meet Canadian Allan Lieble for the first time. He is a fantastic sailor and fun to sail against. So much fun we tied on points and finishes. I was lucky enough to win the tie breaker. Unfortunately, while taking my little Paralympian out of the water, I dropped Kanaloa off the trailer. She was ultimately totaled. .
In the mean time, I took some time out to help Steve Benjamin and his Etchell’s program in Coconut Grove, FL and followed this up with more coaching help on Julian Mann’s “Don’t Panic” a C&C30 before Key West.
With my boat broken, I still wanted to finish the CanAm Series. Once again Ted Green generously stepped up and I was able to keep racing on his 2.4. She had been my Rio training boat, and fast enough for me to take 2nd in January’s CHYC Midwinters in Port Charlotte, and 1st in February’s Edge Sailing Regatta, also in Port Charlotte.
CanAm Finale Regatta March 24-26 2017
This was my 1st Regatta in my new boat, 2 Four 1. Joc and I decided on this name as she was built with as many parts as I could save from Kanaloa. With my insurance check in hand, I went ahead and purchased another Charger hull and deck from Edge Sailing Placida , FL.
I had 2 short sea trial days to prep before the final Regatta started in light to medium winds. Of course the 1st day of racing blew 15 to 20 knots with a little lump. I went out early to see how she would go. She felt good and solid with the new core. Unfortunately, the head stay fitting came off the bow while fully loaded, sailing upwind. The good news is my mast stayed up! The bad news I missed the first 2 races in a no throw out Regatta. I did make it back out for the 3rd race of the day, only to have the jib shackle open up while leading the race. Getting out to the bow was not an easy fix for me. I ended up 13th and last overall for the day. Only one way to go, right?
This Regatta had attracted some of the best 2.4 competitors I had seen on US shores. Megan Pascoe the Open World and Euro champ from Great Britain came over. We also had some great sailors from Canada, Darrell Suderman, Bruce Millar, Mike Hren and of course Alan Leibel. It was not easy out there. Over the next 2 days the wind calmed down, and I was beginning to understand my new boat. My final results were DNC, DNC, 13, 3,1,1,1,1,1. The competition was tight and on only 1 race did I lead the whole way. Some wins were only by a boat length. For 2 Four 1’s first Regatta I was very happy. She seemed fast in all conditions and I need more time to work out the kinks.
Results in the CanAm Finale Regatta top six:
1st Darrell Suderman
2nd Bruce Millar (RVYC)
3rd Dee Smith (STC)
4th Megan Pascoe (Weymouth SC)
5th Mike Hren (Ashbridges Bay YC)
6th Alan Leibel (National YC)
For the CanAm Series that originally started in December, I was showing strong results, 1, 1, DNC, 2, 1, 3. Unfortunately, I could not drop the DNC. Alan won easily, Tony Pocklington was 2nd, and I ended up with a 3rd. I was very happy with the way I was sailing being off my cancer drugs. What a difference!
2 Four 1 is currently back in Annapolis. My next mission is to get myself over to Kiel in Germany. Sailing might have only one chance to get back into the Paralympics at the 2017 Para Worlds in Kiel. We need 32 countries to attend in 5 different classes this June 17-23 to have a chance. The IPC will decide later if Sailing will be put back as a sport into the Paralympics for 2024. I am worried that if we don’t get back in the 2024 games, Sailing might be out of the Paralympics FOREVER. I plan on doing my part, representing the USA in the 2.4mR Class.
This is so important, not only for Paralympic Sailing but for Sailing itself!