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Published on 11/26/2013
Barb began sailing out of Lake Forest just in July as a training vessel for sailors with physical or visual handicaps.  But Barb and the instruction offered by the Lake Forest Sailing Program has already trained enough enthusiastic sailors to allow program supervisor Hunter Ratliff to have a 2014 goal of entering Barb in the Thursday night PHRF series with a crew of two adaptive sports sailors and one instructor.

AT THE HELM when the Freedom 20 races will be an adaptive sailor like KIm Russell of Evanston who learned to sail in Lake Forest last season. 
LF Sailing photo. 

Barb is a Freedom 20, a design created for use by physically or visually disabled sailors, and she  is stored in the southwest corner of the boat compound.  Designed to be very stable, she is beamy and carries much of that beam all the way back to her transom.  A feature that has caught the eye of some senior LFYC sailors is the counterweighted seats that allow the crew to move easily up to the high side when called for.  Other special features include transfer-boarding benches that assist sailors in going aboard, and chest and waist belts to provide stability and security to crew members.

THE FREEDOM 20 in Lake Forest is one of eight built for the Judd Goldman Foundation.  Shown on board is Joey Harris, former LF Sailing supervisor, who directs the foundation's Chicago sailing activities as Chicago Park District programs.
Jeanette Kaiser photo.

When Barb races, her crew will be sailors who have completed one or more of the 6-lesson, 15-hour sailing courses the Sail Program now offers mobility or visually impaired sailors.  The only requirement for prospective students is that they be able to float in a lifejacket for five minutes.
Physical disabilities of any type are welcomed to the classes.  One of the successful students during the first season in Lake Forest was a quadriplegic able to move only the fingers of one hand.  Stroke and cerebral palsy patients have also been successful students.

A NEW WORLD was opened for students like Kim when they could get out onto open water under the guidance of instructors like Nicholas Van Antwerp. 
LF Sailing photo.

Sailing opens a new world to those who sail aboard Barb, Ratliff has found, and one of the first season’s students was so excited over sailing that she and her mother traveled to San Francisco to watch the America’s Cup racing.
Many of the first season’s students found the program though the Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association, headquartered at the Gorton Community Center, but Ratliff is working to involve other groups to bring in more students.  He encourages LFYC members to help spread the word about this very special area of sailing.

There is a cost to students to get sail training: $100 for six 2 ½ hour lessons.  But the first lesson is free and scholarships are available including one sponsored by LFYC.