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International Blind And Visually Impaired Sailors Coming To Race In Chicago!

The 2015 Blind World & International Championship is coming to Chicago Yacht Club September 10-13. Fifteen blind and visually impaired teams from around the world will be competing in this event.

Each team races with four crew members, two of whom are visually impaired. The additional crew members are sighted, but one can only manage the headsail and the other can only provide oral instructions.

"There is an amazing level of trust between a blind sailor and the sighted tactician," said Vicki Sheen, Chair of Blind Sailing International. "The blind sailors have to trust the information given by the tactician, and the tactician has to have faith that their blind teammates will deliver what is asked."

There are three levels of blindness that will be competing at the event: Blind 1, Blind 2 and Blind 3. The classifications range from total blindness or detection of light (Blind 1) to various degrees of visual impairment (Blind 2 and Blind 3). Competitors go through a testing process to identify a racer's classification by measuring central visual acuity and undergoing visual field testing to determine peripheral vision.

Among this year's competitors are 2014 Blind Match Racing World Champion and Member of the British Empire Award winner Lucy Hodges (GBR) and 2013 Blind Worlds Champion Sharon Grennan (GBR).

Hodges has never been to Chicago and is excited to experience what the city is all about. "I love the challenge of new places: learning the environment and weather patterns especially. My first time on Lake Michigan, I could not tell the difference from the sea to the lake it is so big!"

Racing will be done on two types of 23' and 28' one design sailboats, which means that each boat has the exact same setup and features. Additionally there will be no modifications to the layout of the boats or changes to how the race is run relative to standard regattas.

Racing will begin each day at 10:55 a.m. approximately 1.5 miles off of Belmont Harbor. Results and releases will be posted daily here.

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From Green Bay's WBAY-TV:

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