Winner of the prestigious MYDA award (Millenium Yacht Design Award) in the division “The boat on a human scale”, 2015 Alessandro Comuzzi’s R-30 bridges the gap between able bodied and disabled sailors by designing a sailboat conceived from the beginning to accommodate disabled sailors

R_30 is a 30ft innovative and slick boat designed both for racing and comfortable enough for fast cruising

To accommodate wheelchair bound sailors, the wheel has no spoke allowing the dis abled sailor to sit in the middle as would any able bodied driver.

I know, you are going to ask:  How about when the boat heels?  The wheelchair sits on a self stabilizing platform connected to a gyroscope on the mast that corrects the incline of the platform to compensate for the heel and keep the dis able bodied sailor in a comfortable position

While Comuzzi’s approach is interesting, he assumes that only the driver position needs adaptive accommodations.  The deck shows a configuration where the driver can handle both the wheel and sheets, which is common on a lot of adaptive dinghies but somewhat unlikely on a 30ft or bigger boat.  He also assumes that the crew if there is crew will be able bodies, not dis abled, as such, no adaptive accommodations have been made for a dis abled crew.

We need to stop thinking about adaptive boat design like we think about adaptive car driving and start thinking about adaptive sailing in terms of crew rather than single individuals

Comuzzi’s approach shows promises but still a lot has to be done to make the R_30 a truly adaptive boat allowing dis abled crews to sail together and compete in crewed races.

What are your thoughts

Rio Olympics: Health Concerns for Disabled Sailors?

Rio Olympics: Health Concerns for Disabled Sailors? Should athletes be concerned

Commentary: Concern of Athletes at 2016 Rio Olympics-Paralympics.

By Urban Miyares, Co-Founder, Challenged America Program

For athletes there is no question being invited to compete and represent their countries at the Olympics/Paralympics is not only an honor and privilege, but also a testimony to their hard work to achieve excellence. However, in the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympics & Paralympics, I have concern about the health and well-being of the athletes with the reports of pollution and contamination of the waters sailors will be competing in.

Having not read any reports, on the medical side, of health dangers for competing in Rio waters, it has prompted me to write about this concern in hope those in the medical profession will make comment, and to bring public awareness to this matter.

Many people with and without disabilities have compromised immune systems, often triggered by injury, disease, medical procedures and medications. Most are aware of their restrictions and need to avoid contact with or consumption of many types of foods and liquids, as well as other contaminates that are in water, soil and even the air. Others, including athletes, may not know of their restrictions or even realize they have a compromised immune system until a health crisis arises.

As a person with a disability and having a compromised immune system, if I were fortunate to be considered a member of the U.S. Olympics/Paralympics Team in sailing, as an example, I would have to decline my Team position due to medical concern.

Such damage to a person’s health, with a compromised immune system, can create an immediate medical emergency, with devastating effect, and also initiate or trigger a medical condition that may not be detected until month or even years later.

It is with this that I hope the U.S. Olympic Team and that of the other countries sending athletes to Rio publicly recognize this problem, and provide a medical assurance that competing (in the sailing venues) is safe during the games and will not affect their medical condition afterwards.

Let me know your thoughts and opinion.

Making Your Vessel Accessible for the Disabled

Making Your Vessel Accessible for the Disabled
By Urban Miyares, Co-Founder, Challenged America Program

“Urban – My wife now has MS and uses a wheelchair. How can I make our 30 foot sailboat more wheelchair friendly so she can continue to be active as crew and enjoy being on the water? Jim L.”

Over the years we’ve received many such requests, from both sail and power boat owners wanting to make their vessels more accessible and accommodating for themselves and others with disabilities. As a matter of fact, just in the past couple of weeks I’ve had 3 such requests – which prompted me to write this blog.

If you have a physical, mobility or sensory challenge (whether permanent or temporary) or diagnosed with a hidden medical condition, you’ll immediately discover how unfriendly most boats are. Their design is not accommodating to the disabled. However you can make your sail or power boat more welcoming and comfortable to crew members and passengers with impairments.
Following is but a beginning outline to help guide you in making your vessel more accessible to those with physical challenges. Continue reading

Challenged America 2015 A New Beginning

Co-Founder Speaks Out: Challenged America 2015 A New Beginning

As we begin the 38th year of Challenged America, we are proud of the many accomplishments made in introducing sailing as a successful therapeutic activity and a stepping-stone for the disabled to [once again] enter into the workplace.

With changing times and the 3 or 4 key Challenged America financial supporters no longer with us (having passed away or now unable to help, due to health), dramatic changes were in order, and the charity’s (Disabled Businesspersons Association) board of directors is currently in the reinventing phase for the Challenged America Program, as well as the four other programs in the charity.

The question posed to the board is:   “If you could start all over again, given what you already know, what would you do differently?”

Experience is a great educator, and having been on the cutting-edge in techniques and practices, adaptations and accommodations to equalize – for all – the ability to safely sail and race a vessel independently alongside and against other (able-bodied) sailors, in both small and larger vessels, in inland, coastal and ocean passages, has taught us much. Today, many around the world use the experience and adventures of sailors in the Challenged America Program as their template and protocol.

Right now we’re seeking the donation of a larger offshore sailing yacht, whether classic, racer or racer-cruiser, able to accommodate a crew of 12 to 25 (or more) sailors.

From this donation, the type of educational, team-building and life-enriching adventures will be plotted by the board…to include, but not be limited to having a paid staff, interns, structured educational programs for Program participants, recreational and occupational therapists, educators and other professionals, and loved ones of the disabled

An advisory group, to include DBA board members, will be meeting in the first quarter of 2015 to plot out the future direction for Challenged America, and their resulting recommendations will be posted afterwards.

Do you have any thoughts, suggestions or recommendations to give to this advisory group – related to the mission of increasing the successful workplace outcomes of the disabled, through the Challenged America Program?

Do you know of or have a larger sailing vessel that could satisfy, either immediately or in the very near future, the needs of the Challenged America Program?

Have thoughts of a joint venture or collaboration?

Looking forward to your response and how you can contribute to the new adventures in the Challenged America Program.

Email your questions, comments and suggestions to Ahoy@ChallengedAmerica.org

Thank You!