Team USA 1 paralympic sonar campaign for rio

The veteran Sonar team from the United States

Sonar Team USA 1 brings together six decades of combined racing experience to their 2016 Paralympic Campaign. Since joining together in 2009, Rick, Brad, and Hugh have competed in ten countries, medaled at world cup events both at home and abroad, and attained the No. 1 ranked position on the US Sailing Team Sperry more than any other Sonar team.

In January 2015, we learned that the future of Paralympic sailing was in jeopardy. After the international organization representing disabled sailing failed to submit a complete application to the International Paralympic Council, the sport was dropped from the 2024 summer games in Tokyo, Japan. The international outcry from disabled and able-bodied sailors alike, plus the tireless efforts of a new, energized body in World Sailing have not been enough to change the minds of those who could reinstate sailing to the Paralympics.

For now, our team is focused on Rio – determined to win gold for the USA regardless of what the future holds.

2016 World Champions: Brad Kendell, main trimmer; Rick Doerr, helmsman; Hugh Freund, jib trimmer | Photo: Will Ricketson

Recent Achievements

  • GOLD at the 2016 Para World Championships
  • Qualified for Team USA in the Paralympic 3 person sailing event
  • 3rd at Sailing World Cup Hyeres
  • 1st at 2016 Sonar Mid Winter Championship
  • Top US Team overall at 2015 & 2016 SWC Miami
  • 6th at 2015 Para World Championships
2016 Para World Champions in Medemblik, the last major test before the Paralympic Games in Rio.

Paralympic Equipment

Originally designed to be sailed by three or four able-bodied sailors, the large open cockpit of the Sonar serves as a highly adaptable platform for disabled sailors. Upwind sailing is much the same, less one body on the rail helping to balance the powerful mainsail. Downwind we trade in the spinnaker for a jib whisker pole to keep all bodies safely inside the cockpit while maintaining a similar level of performance. Apart from the added a transfer bench and bar to stabilize rail to rail transfers during maneuvers and some displaced controls to suit the three-man/two-sail setup, the boat is essential the same as a stock Sonar.

The transfer bar and bench are typical adaptive equipment

The Road to Rio

In the 12 months leading up to the Paralympics, Team USA 1 will compete in 5 countries on 4 continents separated by 87 degrees of latitude, and spend an incredible 80 days training and racing together. As enormous as that is, well-funded European teams will log double the time in the same year.

Guanabara Bay, Rio

USA 1 is Qualified for Rio

Only 16 berths are allocated for the Sonar class at the Paralympics. Countries must first qualify by finishing in the top of the fleet at specified World Championships in 2014 and 2015. As a top performing boat at the 2015 Para World Championship in Australia, Team USA 1 qualified the United States for a Paralympic berth. For each US team vying for the Paralympic berth, the sum of their final finishing positions at the 2015 Para World Championship and 2016 Sailing World Cup stop in Hyeres, France will determine which team is selected.

Team USA 1 finished both events ahead and was selected to go to Rio.

16 nations will compete in the Sonar event in Rio.

They include current and former World Champions, Paralympic medalists, and America's Cup veterans.

The sailing venue in Rio de Janeiro is set against the dramatic backdrop of Sugarloaf mountain in Guanabara Bay. Rio hosts the first summer games ever in South America and possibly the last summer games ever to feature Paralympic Sailing.

Essential Preparation

We train in Florida during the winter and in New England during the summer, chasing the best wind and warm temperatures. There are non-Paralympic Sonar events from May to October in the United States, but in order to face our toughest competition we need to sail in to the European circuit. Europe has more teams, more events, and will best replicate the competitive environment we can expect at the Paralympics. With full time jobs and limited financial resources, sometimes the hardest part of an event is simply figuring out how to get there.

To be ready for Rio, we must sail as many days as possible.

Key Events


Help us finish

Your donation is tax-deductible and will be matched 100%. Time is critical this close to the Paralympic Games: Every additional day we can afford to train keeps us mentally sharp and physically ready for our biggest regatta yet.

Support The Team

From January through August the team will hold six training camps and compete in five major regattas for a total of 94 days leading up to the Paralympic Games. Many of our foreign competitors are professional sailors with budgets two to four times ours. While we get some support as members of the US Sailing Team Sperry, the bulk of our budget is left to us to fund.

  • Flights: $17,150
  • Housing: $20,800
  • Food: $12,690

Support Boat Preparation

We have two boats that travel around with us - one that goes abroad for events and the other stays on the US Atlantic coast for training and domestic events. All that time on the water takes a toll on our sails, lines, and deck hardware. There is nothing worse than arriving at a major regatta only to have something break the first day, so we keep our kits stocked with spares of everything and do daily inspections of all essential equipment.

  • Transportation: $4,215
  • Sail Budget: $4,120
  • Boat Optimization: $10,000
  • Spare Parts: $5,000

Support Coaching

Every top team has a great coach. Mike Ingham has decades of experience winning in everything from the Olympic Tornado to the stalwart J24. As a team under his guidance we sail more consistently at a high level than ever before.

  • Coaching fees: $25,480
  • Coachboat charter/fuel: $7740
  • Flights: $6,400

Tax deductible donations

Our team has an account with the Windmark Sailing Foundation, a 501(c)3 non profit that supports teams like ours. If you have questions about making a donation, or you would like to make a non-financial contribution (like airline miles) please contact Hugh Freund at: or (207) 332-2590.

Make a tax deductible donation by mail

  1. Write a check to: Windmark Sailing Foundation
  2. In the memo line write: For Windmark Sailors like Sonar USA 1
  3. Mail to: Windmark Sailing Foundation 1 Adams Ave. Bayville, NY 11709 Attn: John Taylor

Thank you for your consideration. Let's get the gold.

2016 World Championst: Brad Kendell, Rick Doerr, Hugh Freund
Created By
Team USA1
Jen Edney Photography, Will Ricketson/US Sailing Team Sperry

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