Good Karma Racing to the Paralympics

TotalBoat Show and the team here at TotalBoat are so proud of Team Good Karma Racing after racing their hearts out at the Paralympic Class Regatta in Medemblik Holland.

Sarah Skeels and Cindy Walker, whom we featured in our Go Deeper profile and in TotalBoat Show a few weeks ago, just returned from the Delta Lloyd Regatta. The Delta Lloyd Regatta is part of the ISAF Sailing World Cup and is held yearly as part of many countries qualifiers for their Olympic team representation. This event is the biggest sailing event in the Netherlands for Olympic and Paralympic classes and Team Good Karma had a great event with challenging conditions. Read this update from skipper Sarah Skeels.

And please take the time to DONATE to their cause so they can get to the Paralympics with all of our support!

SS: “We arrived in Medemblik prepared to work hard on improving on things we learned in Garda.  What we weren’t necessarily expecting were the persistent 12 degree celsius HIGH temps (for easy Fahrenheit conversion, double it and add 30….yeah, without the wind chill).  I wore my down skiing pants and down sweater EVERY day.  The breeze never got below 12k and the sea state was a bit surprising with 3-6 foot waves, especially because we were basically sailing in a lake.

Medemblik is a picturesque Dutch town, full of tidy brick homes, canals, sheep, windmills both modern and old school, sheep, birds of every kind, baby animals everywhere you looked, and did I mention sheep?  As in Garda, our racing occurred just outside of the Regatta Centre, so it only took 10-15 minutes to sail out to the starting line, and like Garda, we shared a starting time with the Sonars. Wheelchair and parking access were always a challenge, but the event was very professionally run and the racing was fair, with long legs and races that were at least 50 minutes long. We had 17 boats on the line, the largest SKUD fleet at a Euro/Worlds event since the 2007 Worlds, if ever!
Take-aways from Medemblik:  Cindy needs a new seat that will help her maximize her abilities, this is our top priority for June.  Sail trim – we are improving but need to spend as much time on the water as possible throughout the summer to continue to work on maintaining steady heel and fast forward speed through the puffs and the big waves.  There is a fertilizer plant near the Regatta Centre from which we sailed, and left shifts were on the odiferous side to say the least!  We also learned that we like USA 074 (our boat) better than the boat we chartered, GBR 045 (which turns out to be 40 kilos heavier than any boat were were sailing against), and that chartering a boat works but requires a LOT of preparation.

The final take-away?  Cindy and I love sailing and love sailing together.  We had a number of breakdowns and a few tactical errors that kept us out of the top 6, but we now know that we can pace with the top boats and this is encouraging and motivating.  We loved having coach Lee Icyda on the water with us, providing expert tactical advice, as well as having her awesome spirit and energy.        This summer?  BACK TO THE GYM, new seats, lots of time on the water.  Anyone want to come sail a SKUD against us?”


Good Karma Racing


Here is an update on Sarah Skeels, Cindy Walker and their Good Karma Racing Team who is working hard to get to the 2016 Paralympic Games in their Skud 18. Sarah and her then new boat, spent a few weeks in our TotalBoat Workshop last Spring and we are so proud to have Good Karma Racing as part of our TotalBoat Advocate network putting the products to the ultimate test on the race course and on the road to a full season of racing and qualifiers for the 2016 Games.

We spoke with Sarah who gave us the following update after the announcement that Sailing has been excluded from the 2020 Paralympic Games:

SS: We are very disappointed in the final verdict, and will always be advocating for increased participation of P-class sailing (and sailing for those with disabilities in general) in all regattas.  Does this change our focus?  Heck no, it only drives us to work harder!  We think there might be an increase in competition in the US SKUD-18 fleet for 2016, and welcome it because being pushed by great sailors will make all of us better.  As athletes, we need to focus on the things we can control:  training and competing on and off the water as much as possible.   The rest?  Well, we can hope to influence future decisions by being good ambassadors to this sport that we love, and do what we can to increase participation in adaptive sailing in the US.  It’s like my favorite Kierkegaard quote (for which our boat, Soren, is named): “Be with what is, so that what is to be, may become”. And the one every sailor knows by heart: “you can’t change the wind, but you can always adjust your sails”.  Words to live by – but always keep sailing! 🙂

TBS: How does the 2020 decision effect your desire to continue competing? Which events will be big ones after the 2016 games?

SS: Cindy and I love to sail, and as much as we enjoy competing together, we also enjoy sharing this passion.  Sometimes, you can give a “never-ever” the sailing bug by getting them out on a boat and cruising around.  The smiles you get to share during this process almost give you the same “high” as competing.  If we have the honor of representing the US in Rio, we hope to perform well, and return home with a mission of getting more people with disabilities out on the water in boats.  As far as the big regattas after the 2016 games?  In the US, it will probably be the tried and true regattas on the current circuit: the Robie Pierce One-Design Regatta, the C. Thomas Clagett Memorial Jr. Regatta,  the North American Challenge Cup, the US Sailing Championships, and the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami.  From a “world” perspective?  I imagine the World Disabled Sailing Championships will become very important.  It can’t hurt to build the base if the sailors can do anything to influence the decision of bringing sailing back to the Paralympics.

TBS: Tell us a little about the immediate future and your fundraising efforts:

SS: We became a team in September, 2014 because we realized that in order to catch up to the world, we needed to train as much as possible.  Since we live close to each other and the Narragansett Bay and Sakonnet River, we train here when it gets above 45 degrees (consistently).  Otherwise, we are in Florida.  This winter, we spent a few long weekends and 1 full week training in Miami and Clearwater.  Because I teach and do research, my work schedule is a little more flexible than Cindy’s, and we both spend a lot of time training off the water at “Bridge to Fitness” in Middletown.   I like to be with my husband and daughter when I can, but this isn’t always possible, so we REALLY appreciate our family and friends who are stepping up to support us in all aspects of our training!
Our current 2015 schedule: May 2-11 Garda, Italy;May 21-31 Medemblik, Netherlands; Clagett regatta June 26-28; Newport Regatta July 11-12; training as much as possible after that.  The trials still haven’t been confirmed, but probably ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami at the end of January, 2016 and an undecided international event (either a test event in Rio, or a Eurosaf regatta in Hyeres or Garda in April/May of 2016).  The 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janerio is early September, 2016!  After Rio?  You’ll see us out on the water with each other, our sailing friends and newbies!

We’d like to thank JD for their support of us with the Total Boat product line; US Sailing Team Sperry for performance, coaching and product support; MTI for their awesome red-white & blue life jackets; Bridge to Fitness for off the water training support; Newport Physical Therapy for keeping Cindy’s body a well-oiled machine; and my husband, Brian Skeels for everything that he does to get us and keep us on the water – we don’t go sailing without his help.

A Skud 18 is a two-person racing dinghy that is designed to be sailed by people with disabilities. This is a modern, high performance boat that would be a challenge for any sailor and has become the International standard for Disabled Sailing. It is the official two-person boat for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio De Janeiro.

Sarah Skeels has been on the US Sailing Team since 2009 and placed first at the 2013 US Disabled Sailing Championships. Jamestown Distributors is proud to support Sarah and Cindy and the Good Karma Racing Team on their bid to the 2016 Paralympic Games.

DONATE HERE to Help Sarah and Cindy with their campaign. Every dollar helps!