Luck was on the side of competitors Aug. 19 for the opening day of the 2008 C. Thomas Clagett Jr. Memorial Regatta as a cold front went through Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay with fierce thunderstorms that fortunately split north and south to bypass the area. With predictions for breezier conditions today, racers in the three Paralympic classes who were joined for the first time at this event by the blind sailors racing in J/22s, went back to work on the water as an up-and-down northerly with an ebbing current made for a challenging day.
Luck, however, was not a factor in determining the 2008 Blind Sailing World Championship, which was won by skipper Sengil “Inky” Inkiala (Watertown, Mass.) and crew Nancy Jodoin (West Brookfield, Mass.), sailing with sighted guides Ken Legler (Reading, Mass.) and Harry Berman (Hull, Mass.).
“Communication is important and when he gives me a command I know [exactly] what he means,” says Inkiala, who has sailed with Legler (the head sailing coach at Tufts University) for more than 10 years.
Inkiala’s team started the day with a two-point lead over the team helmed by defending champion Matt Chao (Boston). Chao’s team — crew Deborah Keating (Woburn, Mass.) and sighted guides Peter Frisch (Swampscott, Mass.) and Tom Winston (Charlestown, Mass.) — were able to win only one race on the final day of the series to the four bullets posted by Inkiala whose worst finish — a fourth in the ninth race — was dropped to give his team the championship title with 12 points to the 20 collected by Chao’s team.
Jason Wallenstein (Quincy, Mass.) with Mark Bos (Gloucester, Mass.) and sighted sailors Bill Rapp (Rockport, Mass.) and Lisa O’Connor (Hull, Mass.) finished third overall with 22 points.
Next March, the teams helmed by Chao and Wallenstein will represent the USA at the 2009 Blind Sailing World Championship in New Zealand.
Complete results are available at www.ussailing.net/Clagett.