Recently, Mark Bos, the Team USA Helmsman competed in the 2016 Blind Match Race World Cup Championship and returned back to NTI. He stated that he had a wonderful time at the event. There was lots of great competition, learning for everyone involved, and most of all progression in the sail blind internationally. Of course in any event of this magnitude there was times of thrilling success and times of what seemed to be insurmountable obstacles. It can be best depicted by the age old phrase of The World of Sports; "The Wild World of Sports...The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat". My team had some thrilling races in which we gained in overall ranking, and skill/knowledge. There were also times of what appeared to be horrible defeats in which the US Team again gained more skill and knowledge. Had time periods, due to uncontrollable weather conditions, that we were presented an excellent opportunity to obtain and share skills, techniques with other International Blind Match Race teams and with the Women's World Match Race Teams as well. It was awesome to have this opportunity that was made available by the incredible individuals who directed and managed the event.
The whole community in Sheboygan, Wisconsin was wonderfully supportive of all events and participants. There were numerous occasions when the US team would be leaving a restaurant and had the honor of everybody standing up from their tables cheering, "Go USA". Individuals and businesses went out of their way to graciously host all teams and provide support with supplies and finances.
Unfortunately, on the 1st race during the final day of competition, USA Team needed to withdraw from the event. This was due to a failure in good communication on the boat and a drastic unpredictable weather pattern change which led to a significant medical injury to myself. I was struck on the head (fortunately with a helmet on) by the boom of the sailboat. The impact was so loud that people on the course thought it was a collision between 2 boats. At the request of team officials, my teammate and coach, paramedics, and my mother who had just arrived, I agreed to be transported to a local hospital for evaluation and withdraw from the race. After being evaluated at the hospital it was determined that I had a minor concussion, a definite pulled muscle in my neck and pre-seizure activity. It should be noted that if I did not have a helmet these injuries would have been much greater.
So of course we did not medal in the event. However, I have been strongly promoting that all Blind Sailors wear helmets for the last 2 years. When the US Team was practicing in Sheboygan in July, I was the only US team member who wore a helmet at that time. There was one blind sailor during this practice that obtained a concussion and 4 stitches, who still did not wear a helmet the next day in practice. As it can be seen by this actual situation and by many others there was great resistance in Blind Sailors wearing helmets.
My victory which was far greater than winning the gold medal, even though that would have complemented it well, was that all Blind Sailors from both USA Teams wore helmets. I was also able to set up a campaign with one of the young women from the Woman's World Cup Swedish teams to promote all sailors in any event to wear helmets. She being one of the only professional sailors at this rank to wear a helmet in almost all events she participates in. This is due to her getting a severe concussion from the sail boom of the boat she was racing that forced her off the race circuit for a full year.
At NTI, we wish Mark a speedy recovery and special thank you for all of his efforts in supporting Team USA and his personal victory in instilling safety in the world of Blind Sailing. We look forward to seeing his efforts in the future and sailing once again.
Mark Bos is the Helmsman for the USA Team in Blind Match Racing. When he isn’t sailing, he works as a Recruiter for NTI helping Americans with Disabilities back into the workplace. By trade, Mark is adventurous and also uses his musical skills as a drummer in a band. With a nothing stops him, type of mentality, Mark keeps showing the world what he can do.