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GBR Blind Sailing kick off campaign to defend World Title

by Lucy Hodges 20 Jan 2017 11:20 GMT 14-15 January 2017
Great Britain's Blind Sailing team prepare for the 2017 Blind Fleet Racing Worlds in Houston © Blind Sailing

Great Britain's Blind Sailing team have a long history of success and in 2015 became World Blind Fleet Racing champions. This weekend in Cowes they launched their campaign to raise funds to send a full team to the 2017 Blind Fleet Racing Worlds in Houston, USA this September.

The team also started their selection process for both sighted crews and visually impaired sailors hoping to send more than three teams this year. Thanks to UKSA, Island Sailing Club, Andy Cassell Foundation and Enterprise Cars plus the weather the team had a great weekend. Friday saw the team refresh on racing and also the interaction of two new B1 (totally blind) sailors Paula Page and Catherine Westbrook, Catherine has joined the team from Downs Sailing Club and Paula was new to racing, but both took to the weekend and became fully engaged in the training.

Blind Sailing also launched their campaign on JustGiving along with our Justgiving Text campaign text GBBW17 £? to 70070. This is to help the team reach the Worlds and defend their title, for more information email

Saturday the wind was due to pick up, so under the coaching of David Bedford the crews headed up the Medina river. This weekend Blind Sailing put four boats onto the water. The wind was steady and constant with small gusts, the river is narrow so great chance to practise team work and good communication. All four boats were refreshing from 2016, but as the day progressed the teams looked smooth and practice racing started, with a short line all boats fought for a good start, this was great to see, with no boats holding back even the new sailors. Commodore Lucy Hodges MBE said "it was great to see new sailor to the group Catherine grow, from calls before the weekend Catherine had said she had not done much helming and found downwind hard as not able to feel the breeze. But with the support of Martin Moody, sighted tactician she was able to grow her helming, it was interesting to hear Catherine describe the realisation as she was facing backwards in the boat talking to Martin she could feel the breeze on her face so had adapted to sailing downwind backwards and it brought a whole new feel".

After a good day on the water the team enjoyed a dinner at UKSA, then broke into two evening groups learning rigging and rules of sailing, the sailors are working hard on shore to ensure that it all becomes second nature out on the water when the pressure rises in a racing situation.

Sunday again the weather was on our side and out into the Solent early to allow sailors to travel home later in the day, with light winds and light rain the teams carried on building on communication seeing the teams push each other like they were already at the worlds. It was also great to see Eddie Kitchen a deaf blind sailor out on the water with a new hearing loop linked to his sighted tactician thanks to PC Werth for loaning the great bit of kit, it opened up the training to Eddie and made Eddie feel fully part of the team able to hear and communicate fully within the boat and also on shore, truly life changing, making sailing even more inclusive, Eddie is now working along side blind Sailing to raise £1,250 for this new bit of kit. The teams put in three full hours of sailing working hard and seeing Paula Page who joined the group on Friday having never raced join in with her first race and helming the boat to a win, sighted tactician Ian said "it's not very often we get two new B1's and for them both to feel like they have been part of the group and for years was amazing, Paula was new to racing but you could not tell by the end of Sunday growing in confidence and having a natural feel for sailing a great weekend all round".

The teams are back out on the water in February looking to put in more hard work.

if you want to know more please feel free to contact Blind Sailing, email

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