Local Sailor Working to Get Sailing Back into the Paralympic Games

You may have heard that sailing was removed from the Paralympic Games 2020. You may not know that a local Annapolis sailor, Dee Smith, is working hard to get the sport reinstated into the Games. 

"The main thing to understand is that sailing is a fantastic sport for people who are limited physically," says Dee. "They are on equal footing with able-bodied sailors in the right boats. It gives you a lot of fun and confidence and all those other things that sailing brings to life."

He knew when he sailed in Rio last summer that 2016 might be the last year for it. Since then, he says, "I've realized that the whole sport is fantastic" and worth fighting for. 

Dee says: "Sailing might have one chance to get back into the Paralympics at the Para Worlds in Kiel. We need 32 countries to attend in 5 different classes in June to have a chance. The IPC will decide later this year to next spring if sailing will be put back into the Paralympics for 2024. I am worried that if we don't get back in for 2024, sailing might be out forever. I plan on doing my part and attend the worlds (the only one from the USA) but we need others from many countries to join up. This is important for not only the Paralympics but for sailing itself. Please pass this around to let people in our sport know how important this is, it would help get more countries to be there.

If you want to help me get to Kiel, there is a non profit that is set up to receive your donations: 

2.4 Paralympic Campaign, INC, 

4 Windwhisper Rd

Annapolis, MD 21403

Here's a bit from Craig Lewick's Sailing Scuttlebutt piece: 

When the decision was made by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to remove Sailing from the 2020 Paralympic Games, it was a shock to see a sport so perfect for the event no longer be involved...

Since the announcement was made in January 2015, World Sailing has since made it its mission to get Sailing back for the 2024 Paralympic Games. Prominent among the requirements by the IPC to reinstate Sailing for 2024 is participation.

Betsy Alison (USA), who has been the US Paralympic Sailing Team leader, and now chairs the Para World Sailing Committee, reports how vital this summer will be in determining the fate of Sailing and the Paralympic Games.

“The2017 Para World Sailing Championships on June 20-25 is pivotal in the World Sailing plan to get sailing reinstated in the slate of Paralympic sports for the 2024 Games,” reports Alison. “World Sailing is working closely with national sailing associations (MNAs) to achieve participation by sailors from a minimum of 32 nations at the Worlds in Kiel. This is 32 nation total, not in each class.”

The five classes to compete are the singlehanded Open 2.4mR (in which Dee Smith competes), Men’s Hansa 303, and Women’s Hansa 303 along with the doublehanded SKUD18 and Weta.

“The US has been reaching out to our neighboring nations in South and Central America as well as the Caribbean to encourage participation and trying to assist with making sure that enough boats are available for them to use,” Alison said. “We know that sailors are interested from Puerto Rico, Guatamala, Argentina, Chile, so far. We also hope that Uruguay will be a first time participant now that they have a fledgling 2.4mR program.”

The challenge in promoting participation has been the lack of national funding for sailors.

Find the full article here. 

Read more about Dee Smith from past SpinSheet articles here.

Find Dee's Facebook page here .