Sailors Chosen For Transpac
March 8, 2005 (San Diego, California)
-- It all began in 1991 when the founders of San
Diego-based Challenged America first stated that
one day they (sailors with disabilities) would
race across the Pacific Ocean in the Transpacific
Yacht Race. After two failed attempts) due to
funding shortfalls) to enter the race in 1993
and 1995, this once boastful statement became
a reality in 2003 when two of the original Challenged
America founders (Bob Hettiger, paraplegic, and
Urban Miyares, total blind; both disabled veterans)
realized their dream when with three other sailors
with disabilities and one able-bodied crew member
(2003 Team Challenged America) they raced 2,225
nautical miles from Los Angeles, California, to
Honolulu, Hawaii, in the 2003 Transpac Yacht Race,
finishing in a respectable 13-plus days.
Challenged America Transpac Team (left to
Kevin Wixom (standing), Ryan Baker (wheelchair),
Josh Ross (standing behind Ryan Baker),
Linda Woodbury, total blind, "B"
Team member (standing), Jeff Reinhold (wheelchair),
Urban Miyares (kneeling with his Seeing
Eye dog guide alongside), and Jim Halverson
Photo by Janet Daniels, Challenged America
the Transpac? The Transpacific Yacht Race is that
one race every serious offshore racing sailor,
and many others, want to do at least once, yet
few actually do. And for serious and competitive
sailors with disabilities, it's the Mount Everest
that needs to be climbed. This demanding race
contains all the elements of being challenged
by the sea, and who can best meet such challenges.
Transpac tests physical ability, stamina, sailing
skills and seamanship. Definitely not a race for
everyone, and once believed a race much too dangerous
and physically demanding for a crew of sailors
having significant disabilities to safely accomplish
independently...until Team Challenged America
achieved the feat in 2003. The Transpac is a 24
hour per day, non-stop race requiring self-sufficiency,
as you can be more than 1,000 miles from the nearest
emergency medical assistance or other aid. Traditionally
having strong 25-35 knot tradewinds and 10 to
14 foot cresting seas, the Transpac is one of
the longest, non-stop ocean races between ports
in the world, other than an around-the-world race.
top racing sailors in the world, racing on the
largest and fastest of ocean-racing yachts are
attracted to the Transpac. And this, the 2005
Transpac, starting on July 11, 2005, is the 100th
anniversary of this ocean-racing legend. International
media attention and public interest has already
begun for this monumental ocean racing classic.
"Making Waves Productions" will be filming
Team Challenged America for an independent film
documentary on their personal challenges to accomplish
such a daunting ocean race, given their extreme
physical and medical limitations, along with in-depth
stories of sponsors and volunteers who have supported
these amazing athletes.
Challenged America 2005 Transpac Team has been
>From 44 original candidates with disabilities,
living throughout the
United States and Canada, Mexico, Europe and South
Africa, the six Challenged America "A"
Team members are:
Ryan Baker - paraplegic (San Diego, CA);
* Jim Halverson - leg amputee and cancer survivor
(San Juan Capistrano, California);
* Urban Miyares - total blind, hearing impaired,
organ transplant recipient, diabetes (San Diego,
* Jeff Reinhold - quadriplegic (Seattle, Washington):
* Joshua Ross, skipper (San Diego, California);
* Kevin Wixom - leg amputee (San Diego, California).
Challenged America Transpac "B" Team
consists of the Transpac veterans from the 2003
Team, and others with disabilities.
the route and daily reports of the Challenged
America Transpac Team on www.YachtRacing.com,
beginning on July 11, 2005, and look for the ESPN
Transpac Special on television in the summer or
fall, with Team Challenged America sure to be
America was founded in the late 1970's by disabled
veterans desiring to further their own rehabilitation.
Today Challenged America is a charitable program
of the Disabled Businesspersons Association, a
501(c)(3) nonprofit. Providing free learn-to-sail
and advanced sailing programs for kids, adults
and disabled veterans with disabilities, funding
for this year-round rehabilitation program comes
mainly from vessel donations and contributions
by business and the general public. The Challenged
America Transpac racing boat, B'Quest (a Tripp
40 sailboat) was donated to Challenged America
by Brian and Suzanne Hull of Coronado, California.
Hundreds of sailors with disabilities and their
loved ones, from around the world, participate
in Challenged America programs each year.
additional information on CHALLENGED AMERICA and
to support their 2005 Transpac campaign, contact
Urban Miyares at CHALLENGED AMERICA, 2240 Shelter
Island Drive, Suite 110, San Diego, California,
92106, telephone (619) 523-9318, email: Port@ChallenghedAmerica.org,
or visit www.ChallengedAmerica.org.
In the late 1970's two disable veterans in wheelchairs,
having a love for the sea and wanting to further
their own rehabilitation, were unable to find
a sailing programs able to meet their unique needs,
challenges and goals. They then purchased a sailboat
(a Cal 20) and invited others to sail with them,
developing adaptations to their sailboat as they
honed skills and sailing abilities. By the late
1980's the two disabled veterans were joined by
others )disabled veterans and non-veterans, as
well as the able-bodied) as crew to regularly
race in coastal and offshore events. Their boat
was now a larger,34 foot racer -- a Beneteau First
1990 San Diego to Ensenada International Yacht
Race found this crew of sailors with and without
disabilities competing. "Challenged America"
was formally launched with this race.
1992 the documentary video "Local Heroes:
Challenged America" highlighted the Challenged
America program as sailors with disabilities raced
in an America's Cup sailboat (America II) alongside
other America's Cup crew. The video was winner
of the national Arts & Entertainment (A&E)
CityVideos Award, and was nominated for an Emmy.
America soon became a rehabilitation program under
the Disabled Businesspersons Association, a charitable
501(c)(3) volunteer-based organization, based
at San Diego State University - Interwork Institute.
Disabled Businesspersons Association is spotlighted
in the "Guide To Effective Compassion"
(a publication of The Acton Institute, Grand Rapids,
MI) as "...one of the 150 most effective
and compassionate charities in the nation."
Challenged America (based on Shelter Island, San
Diego, California) is a year-round, therapeutic,
recreational rehabilitation sailing program providing
free learn-to-sail and advanced sailing instruction
and educational opportunities. Hundreds of people
with and without disabilities, from around the
world, participate in the Challenged America program
yearly. (See "2003 Sea Report.")
for the Challenged America charitable program
is from public bequests, boat and real estate
donations, corporate sponsorship and foundations.