Point Loman wins gold at Disabled National Sailing Championships
by Staff and contribution
Nov 14, 2012 | 2917 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Point Loma resident Ryan Levinson won first-place overall in the three-person keelboat division at the Disabled National Sailing Championship regatta in late October at the Southwestern Yacht Club. Levinson is a lifelong sailor who suffers from FSH muscular dystrophy, a genetic disorder that causes muscles throughout his body to progressively weaken over time.  

There is no known treatment or cure.

Levinson is now too weak to raise his arms overhead or do a single sit up, push up or pull up. He has lost muscles in his leg and can no longer stand on his toes, yet Levinson has developed techniques and modified equipment that enable him to continue sailing at a high level, despite his increasing weakness.

Levinson has won national and state championships in triathlon and cycling in the past, but this was his first time competing in the disabled division of a sailing regatta.  He is currently preparing his 38-foot sailboat Naoma for an extended open-ocean passage to the South Pacific.  

As part of that preparation, he recently successfully completed a 22-day, mostly-solo sailing expedition through the channel islands and coastal ports as far north as Point Conception. Levinson keeps his boat at Shelter Island Marina.

At the national championships, Levinson’s team included East Coast residents Andrew Fisher and Mike Hersey. The trio dominated the regatta with first-place finishes in six of the eight races, despite facing competition that included a Paralympic silver medalist and a former world champion.

The regatta was sanctioned by US Sailing, the sport’s official national governing body, and was hosted by Point Loma’s Southwestern Yacht Club.  Nearly 50 competitors competed in six classes. Every competitor must first be examined by a designated doctor to confirm the presence of a physical disability severe enough to meet the minimum standards for participation.  

“It feels incredible to be able to compete successfully against athletes of this caliber,” said Levinson. “Having the regatta here in San Diego made it an especially meaningful victory for me. I’m grateful to US Sailing, the Southwestern Yacht Club and the Challenged Athletes Foundation for their support and for ensuring that sailing is open to everyone regardless of their physical ability.”

For more information, visit Levinson’s personal website at ryanlevinson.com, or www.southwesternyc.org.

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