Among the sailboats in San Diego waters next weekend will be an unusual group of competitors striving for glory. All sailors in the Kyle C. McArthur Memorial Regatta, hosted by the Coronado Yacht Club, have disabilities, such as spinal cord injury, amputation, blindness, hearing impairment or deafness, muscular dystrophy or multiple sclerosis.
The annual event is organized by Challenged Sailors of San Diego to raise funds for its all-volunteer adaptive sailing program which provides year-round opportunities for people with disabilities to enhance their dignity, well-being, and independence. Local athletes will compete in two-person sailboats, for a disabled sailor and a volunteer companion. These Martin 16 boats are specially adapted for operation with a manual joystick and lines within easy reach, an electric joystick that controls a power assist system or a “sip and puff” mouthpiece. These and other adaptation enable people with physical and cognitive challenges to steer, trim sails and control the boat.
For the first time, local athletes will be joined by disabled sailors from the Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors in San Francisco with a fleet of one-person Hansa 303 sailboats. For sailors in wheelchairs, or with other mobility challenges, a hydraulic lift will transfer them from the dock into their boats.
All events are at Coronado Yacht Club (CYC) on Glorietta Bay, 1631 Strand Way. Excellent race viewing is available at the yacht club and along the south-west shore of Glorietta Bay, in front of the Coronado Community Center and Glorietta Bay Park. On Friday, April 26, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., there will be practice with world-class sailor and coach Jon Rogers. On Saturday, at noon will be the start of the first race of the day, with a CYC Club Championship at 4 p.m. Afterwards, there will be a fundraiser dinner, with raffle and auction items. Tickets for the dinner are available at www.challengedsailors.org. On Sunday, April 28, the first race of the day will begin at noon, with the awards ceremony commencing at 3:30 p.m.
The regatta memorializes LTJG Kyle McArthur, a Coronado High School athlete and Naval Aviator who was killed in a 2013 car accident at age 25. Kyle was an avid sailor who loved to sail with his disabled sister because of the joy and freedom it gave her. His spirit inspires the movement to make sailing available to almost anyone with the will to try. Funds raised by the annual regatta and associated events support the maintenance and acquisition of adaptive equipment and boats and the costs of running the year-round program.