Adaptive Sailing on Lake Michigan offered for people with disabilities

June 30, 2013 (CHICAGO)

Twenty-four years ago, Judd Goldman Adaptive Sailing Program started with three sail boats. Now, they have 20 boats ready for people with disabilities to conquer the winds.

Burham Harbor is where the program is located. It is open Wednesdays through Sundays during boating season.

"We will train them from novices completely never being on a boat before, all the way up to we actually have our first instructor who just graduated from the program," said Joseph Harris, the director of sailing.

All fleets are adapted for different disabilities.

"We have special seats where the participant can sit in. We can either rotate the seat or secure properly the seat so that they can still access the boat to steer," said Harris. "We have a few with less maneuver ability. Your arms, let's say, instead of pushing and pulling, it's a pedal system. You can rotate your arms left and right and still be able to steer the boat properly."

"All of our instructors are US sailing trained for least level one to instruct on how to sail a boat," Harris said.

Chris Martin has been sailing for 50 years. He lives mostly in the Caribbean but comes to Chicago in the summer to help.

"We are taking people out who are learning to sail. So, we are trying to help them," Martin said.

Two of the program participants are Gary pierce and Patrick Loduca. Patrick is now a part-time instructor. This is Gary's second year.

"I wanted to be out on the water -- anything to do with water-- and i figured it was better than a power boat," Gary said.

"You really love to see when people actually start to get it. So, they are actually pushing to come out and learn new things and really understand all of the connections of how the boat interacts with the wind," Harris said.

There is a fee of $100 to participate, but the program offers scholarships. If you are interested in learning how to sail, visit

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