Scott Whitman & Julia Dorsett
Scott Whitman and Julia Dorsett won a gold medal in the doublehanded SKUD-18 class at US SAILING’s 2009 Rolex Miami OCR, the second of seven events in the inaugural ISAF Sailing World Cup. Julia and Scott won the event with straight first place finishes in all 11 races sailed over five days, an unprecedented feat in the past 20 years of the event.
The win qualified them to be the #1-ranked disabled SKUD-18 team on the 2009 US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics. “We did not expect to win every race, but it was the icing on the cake,” said Julia. “We think we clicked within the first few days, it was a satisfying feeling to know that all of our hard work throughout the last quad was paying off.”
The competition was tight in the international field that included the 2008 bronze medalist from the 2008 Paralympic Games and the winner of the 2008 International Test Event in Qingdao, China in May. Winning such an important regatta so early on in the Paralympic quadrennium gives them even more incentive to continue to train with the same intensity as they have in the past. “We are still just getting settled into the new quad and have a lot of planning to do,” said Dorsett. “We want to do as many regattas as possible, including trips to Europe, which will be new to us and we are very excited about that. We have gym programs to adhere to, healthy diets and new SKUD sailors to train with.” Julia and Scott first teamed up in the SKUD-18 when the boat arrived in the U.S. in the summer of 2006.
Over the last two-and-a-half years, the biggest obstacle they have had to overcome is the intensity of the skipper/crew dynamic. Although they have different personalities, they said they “complement each other nicely and the balance works.” They always try to take away something positive from every regatta and training session, no matter their finishing result. Julia added: “Never leave the dock mad… always try to have fun.” Do they have any advice for disabled sailors who want to start competing? “Do it! Even if you have never sailed before,” they said. “Sailing is one of the few sports that equalize the playing field for the disabled athlete to compete against the able-bodied sailor. We get to leave our wheelchairs behind.”