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  • Bill Scanlon
    Scanlon, Bill wrote: From: Scanlon, Bill To: catalina30ruby@yahoo.com
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 29, 2006
      "Scanlon, Bill" <Bill.Scanlon@...> wrote:
      From: "Scanlon, Bill" <Bill.Scanlon@...>
      To: "'catalina30ruby@...'" <catalina30ruby@...>
      Subject: Sailing news
      Date: Thu, 29 Jun 2006 15:11:07 -0400

      Sailing past adversity
      Hingham quadriplegic and Marblehead paraplegic set their sights on gold

      June 27, 2006 | Patriot Ledger
      By Joe McGee, Patriot Ledger
      Most of the amateur sailors who race across the water from Beverly to Marblehead on Wednesday and Thursday nights do it for fun.
      But Team Eagle has greater goals in mind.
      Mark Lewis, a 26-year-old quadriplegic from Hingham, and 40-year-old Maureen McKinnnon-Tucker of Marblehead, are training.  The two hope to make the 2008 Paralympics in Bejing, where they would compete in the first-ever two-man disabled sailing event.
      "We wouldn't be doing this if we didn't think we had a chance," said Lewis, who without use of his wrists or legs, steers the duo's small vessel across Salem Sound.
      Lewis became a quadriplegic in 2001 after a swimming accident. Daily tasks since then have been a chore. 
      He has a personal care assistant and service dog to help him through the day and they're especially important when he sails.
      Lewis learned to sail at the Lincoln Maritime Center in Hingham, and co-captained a team at Hingham High before his accident.
      A graduate of Northeastern University, he had plans to earn an MBA.
      Then one day last summer McKinnon-Tucker called the Duxbury Bay Maritime School, where Lewis trains. She wanted to know about the new two-man sailing event.
      Lewis heard of her interest and the two met in November in Marblehead. There they decided to launch their Paralympic campaign. 
      A mother of two, McKinnon-Tucker became a paraplegic in 1995 following an accident in Maine.
      Like Lewis, she refused to let her disability get in the way of her goals. And she believes she and Lewis can be champions.
      "Sailing is just a great equalizer for anyone with my type of disability," McKinnon-Tucker said.
      "I've sailed with people with amputations, completely blind people and now someone who can't move his hands. One would think if you can't move your hands you can't sail, and you can indeed." 
      Team Eagle, for the time being, is coached by McKinnon-Tucker's husband, Dan Tucker, a lifelong sailor who introduced his wife to the sport.
      Twice a week, Tucker and Lewis' care assistant, Haejee Kim, launch the team from a boatyard in Marblehead. The races they compete in are sponsored by the Jubilee Yacht Club in Beverly and Boston Yacht Club in Marblehead.
      Lewis requires the use of a special hydraulic lifting device to get him in and out of the boat. Kim, a petite 19-year-old woman, is by Lewis' side at all times because he needs help with simple tasks like putting on a life preserver.
      "It's not the easiest thing in the world but he's great about it," Kim said. "It's great to see him out on the water."
      When the sailboat is afloat, Tucker drives back to Jubilee where he keeps an 18-foot Coast Guard boat.
      Somehow he manages to fit all of this into the narrow skiff: Kim, his two children, Trent, 8-months-old, and Dana, 6, along with Lewis' guide dog, a fully-grown golden retriever named "Dexter."
      The baby is asleep in a carriage wedged in front of the center console where Tucker steers. 
      He guns the motor and flies out to meet the sailboat in the middle of the sound to do his coaching lessons.
      The Eagle boat is dwarfed by gargantuan yachts, some manned by 10 to 20 crewmen. McKinnon-Tucker is smiling as she trims the sails.
      She's used to competition.
      McKinnon-Tucker started out racing in three-person sailing boats called Sonars. She was the first female member of the U.S. Disabled Sailing Team and qualified for the 2004 Paralympic games in Athens.
      Tucker learned about sacrifice from his experience in Athens with his wife. He knows what's in store if they want to make it to Bejing.
      Training two days a week with two young children, a dog and two disabled people who use wheelchairs isn't easy.

      Babysitters are hard to find, the hours are long and the financial cost is immense.
      The team trains throughout New England and has plans to go to Florida and Europe if the two can raise the money.
      An Internet marketing consultant, Tucker loses income every time his wife sails, he said.
      "Gas for the engine alone costs $25 every time we go out," Tucker said, pointing to a 25-year-old 140 horsepower engine on the back of his boat.
      There are no alternatives, however. The group is one of only six in the country that was able to buy a $20,000 Skud-18 sailboat. 
      The sleek handicap-accessible model was manufactured in Singapore and delivered to the U.S. market this spring.
      It has never been raced in Paralympic competition and it had to be modified for Lewis. It came with a joystick steering mechanism but he has no strength in his wrists.
      Now he straps his hands into two joysticks and controls the rudder by moving back and forth with his biceps.
      Team Eagle's immediate goal is to place in the top three in an upcoming regatta in Newport. Those top teams will be named the country's official disabled sailing teams for the year.
      Making the U.S. team would be enormous. Right now, Team Eagle is $80,000 short of its fund-raising goal.
      That is how much money they figure they will need to get to Bejing. The national organization could offer them huge rewards.
      With or without victory in Newport, the team will continue training for the 2007 qualifier race, also in Newport.
      The winner of that race will go to Bejing.
      Winning Paralympic gold would rank Team Eagle among the greatest sailors in the world, Tucker said.
      As he glides alongside the sailboat, Tucker barks commands across the bow, prodding the two to get better.
      "It's a much bigger commitment than most people have an appreciation for," Tucker said.
      Back in Marblehead, Tucker and Kim unload the duo from the water, back into their wheelchairs, and head home. They started out at 3:30 p.m. and finished after 10 p.m.
      Because the Skud-18 is a new model, they couldn't determine how they placed, but McKinnon-Tucker said they passed several boats on the water.
      That means they're getting the hang of their new boat, learning what it will take to get to Bejing.
      "What it meant was that our strategy for the race was right," McKinnon-Tucker said.
      Such long days are worth it in the pursuit of the gold, she said.
      "Some sailors think we've lost our marbles because when other people are home having dinner, I'm on the water chewing on a power bar, getting soaked, but sailing is such an empowering experience following a disability like ours, especially for somebody like Mark who has so little of his body cooperating with him anymore," McKinnon-Tucker said.
      "How could you miss out an opportunity like this if it's within your grasp?"
      To learn more about Team Eagle, visit teameagle.org.
      Maritime graduates ready to set sail
      For The Patriot Ledger

      BUZZARDS BAY - Massachusetts Maritime Academy students were told that they are valuable assets.
      ''We are involved in industries that are vital to the world,'' co-valedictorian and Marshfield native Ronald Cellucci Jr. told his classmates Saturday during the school's 163rd graduation ceremony. ''Now it is time to achieve success with the preparation, knowledge and work ethic we have developed together over the last four years.''
      Cellucci told his classmates that anything would be possible with a Mass Maritime education that blended a major maritime discipline with the liberal arts.
      ''We have all been trained to handle any situation that we may face,'' Cellucci said.
      U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who received an honorary doctorate, told the cadets they have international value as nautically trained men and women ready to enter the work force.
      In his commencement address, Kennedy told the 178 graduates to work to help make sure that the United States stays at the world's forefront.
      ''The nation needs a new generation of workers and leaders,'' Kennedy said. ''Be worthy of your stewardship and the promise of this land and give something back to America for all it has given to you.''
      U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commissioner Christine M. Griffin, who graduated from Mass Maritime in 1983, also received an honorary doctorate.
      She spoke about her experience as a member of the second Mass Maritime class to accept women and told of the merits of change.
      ''In this fast and changing world, the only constant is change,'' Griffin said. ''Be open to the moments that might shift your future.''
      Steven Tennyson was the other co-valedictorian and Joseph Bushy of Falmouth was class president.
      Erin Foley of Canton received the Triumvirate Environmental Award. Nicole Price of Bridgewater received the Facilities and Environmental Engineering Award. Andrew McIsaac received the Ensign Joseph P. Nowd Jr. Memorial Award for marine engineering.
      Copyright 2006 The Patriot Ledger
      Transmitted Monday, June 26, 2006

      Bill Scanlon
      USCG Master 50 GT Inland Waters
      Towing & Sailing Endorsements
      Lic. # 1092926
      1984 Catalina 30
      Std. Rig  Hull#  3688
      Winthrop (Mass.) Yacht Club
      Navigare necesse est, vivere non est necesse

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