Sailing is an age-old sport and a pillar of human progress. People have been sailing since the beginning of time, both for necessity and for leisure. Advancements in travel and trade not only led to the honing of seafaring skills, but also to the development of great civilizations. Today, sailing is just as important as it always has been, and has even branched out into a sport by itself.
Sailboat racing started out as yacht racing in the 17th and 18th centuries, and has since then, extended to a variety of sub-categories, including Paralympic Sailing. Sailing became popular among disabled sailors in the 1980s and by 1988, the newly formed International Handicap Sailing Community (IHSC) started organizing competitions for the disabled. After sailing appeared as an exhibition sport in the 1990 World Games for the Disabled, the IHSC was recognized by the International Sailing Foundation and renamed the International Foundation for Disabled Sailors (IFDS). Paralympic Sailing then appeared in 1996 as a demonstration sport and by 2000, sailing became an official Paralympic sport. Twelve countries participated in the 1996 demonstration and seventeen countries participated in the official 2000 Sailing Paralympics.
Paralympic sailing is now famous on the world stage and maintains a reputation for being one of the few Paralympic sports that encompasses nearly all ranges of disabilities. It levels the playing field for all disabled sailors and even allows them to race with able-bodied sailors. Paralympic sailing is a sport embraced by sailors all over the world because of this. Racing To Rio seeks to depict this beloved aspect of Paralympic sailing one final time as it films Sonar Team USA 1 and the challenges and victories of its members as they reach for the Rio 2016 Paralympics.
In a decision that upset sailors world-wide, the International Paralympic Committee elected to officially remove sailing from the 2020 Paralympics. This decision may cement the Rio 2016 Paralympics as the final Paralympic sailing games in history. Team USA1 recognizes that 2016 may be its final opportunity to compete in the sailing Paralympics and win a gold medal for the U.S. The question of “what comes next?” looms over the minds of every Paralympic sailor as they prepare for what could be the most competitive Paralympic sailing game of their lives.
Racing To Rio will raise awareness for the importance of Paralympic sailing on both the local and international stage. It is the crew’s goal to show the world what an impact Paralympic Sailing has had on the lives of its participants and supporters, as well as those around them. If that goal is reached, then maybe, just maybe, the story of Paralympic Sailing will not end in 2016.
Racing To Rio needs your support! Donate now at racing2rio.com.
Donations can also be mailed to:
The Barbaro-Gould Foundation, Inc.
1211 Hamlet Avenue, Studio D
Clearwater, Florida 33756
Let’s keep Paralympic Sailing dreams alive, together!