The IFDS World Blind Sailing Championships will be held in Rotorua, New Zealand from 12-21 March 2009 and planning is well underway for an exciting event, making the most of everything that the sport and the region has to offer.
Organizing committee chairman Don MCGOWAN says the goal is to provide a world class regatta, combined with a true New Zealand experience for the crews and supporters.
"We are expecting between 15 and 25 crews to compete in the event, and so far we have had interest from the United States, Britain, France, Ireland, Norway and Israel."
New Zealand will also be entering a team, following on from its first, second and third placings in the three different categories at the 2006 event which was held at Rhode Island, New York.
The 2009 event will be sailed in the Noelex 25 trailer yachts and each boat will involve a crew of four people - two sighted people, and two blind people. There will be three classifications - B1 (totally blind), B2 (can see light and dark) and B3 (impaired vision, eg. tunnel vision).
"The sighted people essentially perform support roles in the crew. The tactician is a sighted person, but the yacht is skippered by a blind person. A sighted person is not allowed to touch the helm at all,"
"The yachts are being kindly provided by Noelex 25 owners with support and encouragement from the Noelex 25 association, with new sails fitted to each boat to ensure a level contest for competitors."
A committee has been established to organize the competition, however, the team has also created a charitable trust to fundraise the nearly $200,000 that is needed to run the World Championship.
"We have received fantastic support from Bay Trust, the Rotorua District Council and the Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust, but we have a way to go yet,"
He says there is a dual purpose for establishing the charitable trust.
"The Bay of Plenty Disabled Sailing Trust is over-seeing the fundraising for the event, but it has also been created to support disabled, including blind sailing in New Zealand into the future as well.
"Blind sailing is a sport in which New Zealand has achieved considerable success, and it also gives vision impaired people the opportunity to compete on the national and international stage. It's important that we continue to provide these opportunities."
Entries close for the World Blind Sailing Championships on 31 December.
Check out www.2009worldblindsailingnz.com
for further information.