BLIND & VISUALLY IMPAIRED STUDENT DO MORE THAN TAKE A RIDE AT CHALLENGED AMERICA
Imagine eight, nine and ten year old, blind and visually impaired elementary school students steering and trimming a sailboat all by themselves as the navigate they busy and tricky waters of San Diego’s Big Bay.
“We’re not a go-for-a-ride sailing program,” says Dave Meyer, volunteer coordinator of the therapeutic Challenged America program. “These kids’ first-time experience sailing will be an instant reality happening as they learn to steer and trim the sails, even though they can’t see, with their sailing instructor sitting behind them in the two-person, Martin 16 sailboat.”
Ryan Porteous and his crew (and Mom) Kristy Porteous are congratulated on winning the 2013 DASH to Chula Vista by Chula Vista Yacht Club Commodore Michael Kirchgestner
Born to a San Diego family, Ryan Porteous was fortunate to grow up in the coastal community of Pacific Beach in a time when P.B. was booming. His father an environmental consultant and mom a grade school science teacher, Ryan was oriented toward getting an advanced education from an early age. Beginning at Mission Bay High School, after graduation Ryan matriculated to UC Santa Barbara.
Ryan was introduced to water sports at a young age, firmly rooting his destiny in boating. At Mission Bay Yacht Club, he attended the Junior Summer Sailing Program from age seven to ten. It was there at MBYC that Ryan learned to sail and then eventually race. “I started out in sabots, progressing from C3 to A fleet, then on to 420s, lasers, and other sailboats, racing at junior regattas and other types of fleet racing.” Being the ace that he has become Ryan humbly explains, “I have won multiple local regattas in these boats and done well in national regattas, as well.” Some notable achievements were winning the 2007 Mark Reynolds Perpetual Trophy in the 420 class, and placing third then second in the 2008, then 2009 ISAF (International Sailing Federation) Youth World Qualifiers in Multihulls.
Things were going well for Ryan when he headed off on a camping trip in October of 2011. Regrettably, while walking on a dock he slipped and changed his life forever. “I have a C-6 spinal cord injury which caused almost total paralysis. I broke my neck in a freak accident in which I slipped and fell to the ground, clipping my head on the end of the dock. I lost control of my body from the neck down.” Continue reading
Following the great sailing, all the participants, volunteers and many other friends of Challenged America gathered at the Sunroad Resort Marina pavilion for a pot-luck feast to celebrate the holidays and coming New Year.
All eight of Challenged America’s Martin 16 s were out sailing on San Diego Bay Saturday, enjoying the beautiful weather. Several competed in the last races of the 2013 Loch and Clare Crane Regatta Series and some just day-sailed. Sue Taetzsch and companion sailor Marshall finished third; Eric Berkey and John were second and future Paralympian Ryan Porteous and Kristy led the fleet with 3 bullets for first place.