Sailor of the Week: Sept. 24 - 30
The 2012 Paralympic Games may be three years off, but US Sailing
Team AlphaGraphics’ (USSTAG) Rick Doerr isn’t wasting any time gearing
up to win a medal in the triplehanded Sonar, a 23-foot keelboat. The
U.S. National Champion and current IFDS World Champion, Skipper Rick
joined forces with crew Hugh Freund, a college sailor from Roger
Williams University, and Maureen McKinnon-Tucker, 2008 Paralympic Gold
Medalist in the SKUD-18, this year, and they medaled at both events
they competed in.
Rick’s team just returned home from Weymouth, England a little heavier, after winning a gold medal at Sail for Gold, the final ISAF Sailing World Cup event in the 2008-2009 circuit. Rick and his crew won four out of the seven races, securing first place overall in a competitive fleet. Rick credits their success at Sail for Gold with clear communication and teamwork, in addition to experience and aggressiveness.
Not only was this event important for their standings in the Sailing World Cup – they moved up to second overall in the Sonar - it was their first opportunity to test the waters at the venue of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Sailing Regattas. Rick stressed the importance of gaining valuable experience at the venue:
“It was an important event because it was our first chance to see the sailing area, get exposure here… and be prepared,” he said, adding that their team has what it takes to compete against the best of the best in Weymouth. “The 2012 Paralympic Games will require a lot of strength and endurance in these windy conditions.”
The Clifton, N.J. resident grew up racing Lightnings, Comets and catamarans on Barnegat Bay with his family and friends who were all avid sailors. After suffering a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed from the waist down in 1992, he was able to revisit his passion for sailing. “Sailing got me back to a place where I felt familiar after my injury,” he said. “When I started sailing again, my health improved.”
When Rick isn’t sailing, he is focused on his career as a physician in plastic and reconstructive surgery, which is another passion. While it can be tough to juggle both a Paralympic campaign and a demanding career, Rick says the combination helps him face challenges in the operating room and on the race course.
Fresh from winning a gold medal at Sail for Gold, Doerr is now getting ready to compete for another medal in the Sonar on U.S. soil. Racing begins tomorrow at the Sonar World Championship at Noroton Yacht Club in Darien, Conn., Doerr’s home yacht club. The top Sonar Paralympians – Canada’s ISAF Rolex Yachtsman of the Year and Paralympic Gold medalist Paul Tingley, France’s Paralympic Silver Medalist Bruno Jourden and his crew, Australia’s Paralympic Bronze Medalist Colin Harrison and his crew, and Ireland’s Paralympian John Twomey -- will compete among 55 teams from seven countries in the open event.
“The mix of disabled and able-bodied competitors is unique to the Sonar class and keeps the class on the cutting edge of integrating physically challenged sailors into the general ranks,” said Rick, who expects lively competition this weekend on Long Island Sound. Stay tuned for the latest results on the event web site: http://www.sonarworlds.org/
For complete news and results, as well as action photos of Rick at Sail for Gold, please visit: