World Sailing Event in Punta Gorda, Florida, Jan. 7 – 15, 2012
International attention is focused on Charlotte Harbor and Punta Gorda, Fla., this week as more than 100 sailors compete during the 2012 International Disabled Sailing Association’s World Championships, Jan. 10 – 15. Saturday, Jan. 7, the community welcomed competitors with what was called the “World’s Shortest Parade of Nations,” just over 200 yards in length and 12 nations represented.
Many former world champions and sailors who have qualified for the London 2012 Paralympic Games will be competing in these Florida waters.
Following the parade, I watched some of the sailors work on their boats in and out of the water. I got a kick out of watching Andre Rademaker of the Dutch 2.4 sailboat racing team maneuver his wheelchair with flair, precision and speed as though he was competing in the X Games. He raced down the boat ramp, turned stopped his chair (like a roller derby move!), stood up, raised his arms and exclaimed while a cigarette balanced between his lips, “It’s a miracle!” Before climbing into his boat he removed his prosthetic leg.
Wandering through downtown – from the Punta Gorda Farmers Market to Laishley Park, I noticed several “Welcome IFDS” signs posted in downtown businesses. Nice.
If ya want to see on-the-water action, King Fisher Fleet is offering spectator boat rides, $16.95 for a 90-minute trip departing at noon each day beginning Tuesday, Jan. 10 through Sunday, Jan. 15. The boat departs from Punta Gorda’s Fishermen’s Village Resort & Marina and is wheelchair accessible. Contact King Fisher Fleet to reserve your seat by calling (941) 639-0969.