Model Sailboat Program to Benefit Youngsters with Disabilities

V32's shown in the water. Photo courtesy American Model Yachting Association, Jerry Sinclair.

Student sailors with disabilities in Massachusetts and beyond will have the opportunity to race model sailboats as part of an extensive senior project undertaken by Tabor Academy senior Asa Smith.

A resident of Wellesley and a boarding student at Tabor Academy in Marion, Massachusetts, Smith is completing and renovating model boats left unfinished in previous semesters by students taking the Ship and Boat Design class that is part of the Tabor Nautical Science Department curriculum. He will donate 2 of the boats to the 2012 Robie Pierce One-Design Regatta for sailors with disabilities in Larchmont, New York; 2 to Duxbury Bay Maritime School‘s ACCESSAIL program; 2 to the New Bedford Community Boating Center and one to the Schwartz Center in Dartmouth, Massachusetts.

V32's fleet. Photo courtesy American Model Yachting Association, Baron Mludek.

With the support of Robie Pierce, a 1958 Tabor alum, and Capt. David Bill, head of the Nautical Science Department at Tabor, Smith pulled the unfinished boats out of storage and obtained permission to donate them from their previous owners. He spent the semester painting them and building the remote controls that will enable children and adults with disabilities to sail them as part of model boat regattas.

“I found a biography about Robie in an old alumni magazine at Tabor that talked about how he had founded the Shake-a-Leg program in Newport, Rhode Island, which is now called Sail to Prevail,” said Smith. “I got in touch with him shortly after that and he’s been so supportive of my project ever since.” Pierce is himself a sailor with disabilities, and Sail to Prevail creates opportunities for children and adults to overcome adversity through therapeutic sailing.

The American Model Yacht Racing Association V32s that Smith worked on are 32” long and sloop-rigged. The radio controller operates a rudder servo and a sail servo, which enable the sailor to steer and sail the boat.

To read more about boating in Marion, read New England Boating’s destination feature: Focus on Marion, Massachusetts

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