Local blind sailors win championship race in RI


The team of Karen Penrose, of Shoreacres, and James O'Loughlin, of Clear Lake, were racing at the C. Thomas Clagett Jr. Memorial Regatta in Newport, RI for the first time this past weekend and they took home the championship.

Penrose and O'Loughlin were one of seven teams competing with two sighted guides assisting the two blind sailors. Their sighted guides consisted of David Atkinson and Scott Tuma, both from Shoreacres.

With four second-place finishes and a win of the final race on day one, they ended the regatta the same way, winning the final race of the series to take the 2011 Sail Newport Blind National Sailing Championship.

"It's pretty overwhelming since I am a rookie to sailing," said Penrose.

After making a last-minute decision to enter the regatta, the team only had a few months to prepare and they were fortunate to arrange to practice in a friend's sailboat.

"I've only been sailing for the last couple of years and I was amazed, very happily, that we ended up doing so well. I had the best crew you could have ever asked for: Jim was our jib trimmer and he did a fantastic job, and Scott has experience with blind sailing as well as J/22s, and especially David who was my talker. Absolutely could not have done it without them," Penrose said.

The ninth edition of the C. Thomas Clagett Jr. Memorial Regatta for sailors with disabilities has attracted over 60 competitors racing in four classes of boats: the three-person Sonar, the two-person SKUD-18, the single-handed 2.4 Metre and the four-person J/22.

Congratulations from ABC13 to Karen and James, and David and Scott!

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