Gulfport Yacht Club offering sailing lessons to blind students

Not every sailor needs a lighthouse to reach the shore. A new program at the Gulfport Yacht Club is teaching people without sight how to navigate new waters.

The Gulfport harbor is a labyrinth of sails and boat ramps.

Just like in the world of sailing, it can be hard to find your way – that’s why instructors at Gulfport Yacht Club are showing the ropes to these blind sailing students.

Water or land, it doesn’t matter to these eager rookies. Instructor Samson Vasquez says that sailing is not always about eyesight, but is rather a test for all the senses. “You have to use your senses. You feel the boat. You’ve got to feel the boat and that’s what we teach kids and everybody – you feel the boat.  You’ve got to become one with the boat and feel what the wind is doing to the sails and what the water is doing to the foils underneath.”

Alan Test, a native Californian who moved to the Coast in September, had the idea to start the classes because of similar programs back home.

David Lancaster, a student in the class, was game to try it out. “I got a hold of David Lancaster — who has an organization called Never Lose Sight – a nonprofit, and he said ‘Hey, I want to go sailing.’ So, one thing led to another.”

If these new sailors stick with their lessons, they’ll be competing in sailboat races in Mississippi and Florida. Vasquez has already mentioned the opportunity to the class.

“You learn one thing each time you go out sailing. That’s all you can ask for. I still learn when I sail.”

Email to find out more about sailing lessons.

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