Blind sailors overcome obstacles

Posted at 11:23 PM, Mar 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-21 09:12:41-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Blind match racing is gaining some momentum in the United States, thanks to the passion of coaches and members in the blind community.

Chris Scheppe and the rest of his teammates are blind. However, they don't use their walking sticks as an excuse. Instead they use it as motivation to accomplish more. "It is great to sail with others that are visually impaired," said Scheppe.

Scheepe was born blind, but Walt Raineri lost his sight as an adult. In the midst of making the life adjustment, he fell while learning to use his walking stick. It was a set back that didn't slow him down. "I decided I was going to get up and start doing things. It was right then, I found sailing. What a great group of people that embraces all the people who want to get involved in the sport," said Raineri.

Coach Liz Baylis really enjoys coaching up the visually impaired because of how fast they are able to master the strategies she has taught them. "I really love working with the visually impaired and its a lot of fun to empower people to get them learning more," said Baylis.

Scheppe looks forward to taking her teachings and helping grow the sport more in the United States. "I was elected as America's representative for Blind Sailing International, so I am using that to try to promote the sport here in the United States to try and get as many people involved and get them hooked on match racing," said Scheppe.