Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search

 


Whangarei sailor a Paralympic pioneer

Garth Reynolds is set to go where no blind sportsman has gone before when the Paralympics begin in Sydney next week - out on the water.

Reynolds, who regularly sails with the Whangarei Cruising Club, is the first blind or sight-impaired person to be selected for a New Zealand Paralympics crew. He will be the mainsheet hand in the three-man Sonar class, working alongside Dunedin's Phil Edwards and Nelson's Marty Clark (or Auckland's Chris Wood) as additional crew members.

Reynolds, a former farmer and equestrian rider, who took up sailing in 1994, is graded B2 in blind sport. B1 is the classification given to someone who is totally blind ranging through to B2 and B3 for those with very limited sight. Reynolds' sight-impairment is the result of Retinitis Pigmentosa, which means he can't see the creases or bagging on a sail, 'just a big white blob'.

Reynolds sees images, but can't see any detail. He can see the outline of someone's face but not their facial features. Glare and distinguishing colours can also be difficult and he can see a buoy within a 15-20 metres range depending on light conditions.

Paralympian sailors are allotted points representing the degree of their disability. Each crew's combined points must not exceed 12. Reynolds is graded as four points.

"I can do 75 percent of a sighted mainsheet hand's normal tasks with my vision," explains Reynolds. "But I'm unable to tune the mainsails to their final point, so the communication on our boat has to be right up to scratch. I have to have that last call from somebody else in the boat to get my sails dead right."

Reynolds is hoping for breezier conditions than the fluky light airs that played havoc with New Zealand's medal hopes at the Sydney Olympics regatta last month.

"I think it's pretty well-known that European sailors are used to sailing in much lighter winds than we are and we're probably not as patient. So we're hoping it will be a bit blustery for us, even though this can create mobility and balance problems for the rest of my crewmembers. We have to tack a bit more slowly at times in this sort of sailing."

The 23-foot long, Sonar fixed-keel class lends itself well to disabled sailing because of its very roomy cockpit area. New Zealand gained a wild card entry into the Paralympian regatta, and Reynolds says there will be plenty of challenges for the crew as they take on other more experienced international crews who may have been together for many years. Because the New Zealand crew is spread from one end of the country to the other, getting together for training over the past few months has been very difficult. Compounding this, they have had to practise in a different type of yacht - J24's- as there are no Sonar boats available in this country.

However, Reynolds is no stranger to the class. It was in a Sonar that he won a gold medal at the 1999 World Blind Sailing Championships in Miami, Florida as helmsman of the New Zealand B2 crew.

Blind sailing differs from disabled sailing in that crews consist of a sight-impaired helmsman and mainsheet hand alongside a sighted tactician (who can talk but not touch anything) and a sighted crewmember. In disabled sailing the three-man crew has no extra help.

Reynolds hopes the Paralympics will open doors for the fledgling crew into other major international disabled sailing events.

"Although we're up against some very experienced overseas crews, there's quite a lot riding on us being able to achieve reasonable results."

The weeklong Paralympics regatta starts on Oct 21 in Sydney. Reynolds and the crew assemble in Auckland Wednesday 11 October, before the New Zealand Paralympics team departs for Australia on Thursday.

-ends-

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 

Electronica: Restoring The World’s First Recorded Computer Music

University of Canterbury Distinguished Professor Jack Copeland and UC alumni and composer Jason Long have restored the earliest known recording of computer-generated music, created more than 65 years ago using programming techniques devised by Alan Turing. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Review Of Books: Almost Getting Away With Murder

The Black Widow by Lee-Anne Cartier: Lee-Anne Cartier is the sister of the Christchurch man found to have been murdered by his wife, Helen Milner, after an initial assumption by police that his death, in 2009, was suicide. More>>

Howard Davis: Triple Echo - The Malevich/Reinhardt/Hotere Nexus

Howard Davis: The current juxtaposition of works by Ralph Hotere and Ad Reinhardt at Te Papa perfectly exemplifies Jean Michel Massing's preoccupation with the transmigration of imagery in a remarkable triple echo effect... More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: Nō Tāu Manawa

Vaughan Rapatahana responds to Fale Aitu | Spirit House by Tusiata Avi: "fa’afetai Tusiata, fa’afetai, / you’ve swerved & served us a masterclass corpus / through graft / of tears & fears..." More>>

9 Golds - 21 Medals: NZ Team Celebrates As Rio 2016 Paralympic Games Close

The entire New Zealand Paralympic Team, led by kiwi sprinter and double gold medallist Liam Malone as flag bearer, are on the bus to the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro for the Closing Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. There, they will celebrate the fantastic successes of the past 10 days. More>>

ALSO:

New Zealand Improv Festival: The Festival Of Moments To Return To The Capital

The eighth incarnation of the New Zealand Improv Festival comes to BATS Theatre this 4-8 October , with a stellar line-up of spontaneous theatre and instant comedy performed and directed by top improvisors from around New Zealand and the world. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Culture
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news