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An Interview with Nichole Rider
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 "A whole new world has been opened up to me. The people I have met have been amazing and so supportive and it has rekindled the 'Dare to Dream' spirit deep within me. Our only limits we have in life are the limits we put on ourselves. Since I have started sailing, it has only intensified my attitude and belief that I can do anything in life that I choose to do. Disabled or not... life is all a state of mind. Your attitude determines your altitude in life! "        


Disabled sailor Nichole Rider, a member of the Clever Pig Sailing Team, discovered this sport in April of 2010 and since then has competed in an impressive number of regattas, making it a priority to spread the word about disabled sailing opportunities. Her passion, enthusiasm and commitment are truly amazing and a great inspiration to all.   

Nichole Rider sailing
Nichole Rider sailing a SKUD 18 in Ontario, Canada, photo by Jim Watters

CLEVER PIG (3rd October, 2011): How old are you and where are you from?

NICHOLE RIDER: I am 38 years old and was born and raised in Wyoming.

CP: Which yacht club are you a member or affiliated with?

NR: Windy Wyoming Sailing Club, which I helped to start with a couple of friends here in Laramie, WY. We are more of a virtual yacht club and have 64 members to date!

CP: How did you get started in sailing?

NR: I had never sailed before I went to Miami, FL, for vacation in April 2010. While in Miami, I had the great pleasure of meeting Kerry Gruson, John Muir and Juan Carlos Gil who took me sailing in Kerry's Sonar and I was hooked from the first time I took the helm. Over the course of the summer I exploded into the sailing world, racing in 6 regattas. Eager to share my energy and enthusiasm, I have become very active in my local sailing community. I helped to start the Windy Wyoming Sailing Club in Laramie, WY. I was named Sailor of the Week by US SAILING the first week of December 2010 and was the ARGO Challenge Ambassador of the Week in February 2011. In December I had the pleasure of being in the Ft Lauderdale Winterfest Boat Parade and was on the 12 Dinghies of Christmas Float with Anna Tunnicliffe, the 2008 Olympic Gold medalist in the Laser Radial. I also helped to spearhead the effort to bring the first Road to Rolex Women's Sailing Clinic in Denver, CO, in June of 2011. The clinic was open to able and disabled women sailors of all ability levels

CP: What role does sailing play into your life?

NR: It is my life. I have found my passion in life in sailing! I have never felt the freedom and joy as I do on the water. I have been an athlete my whole life and I just found a new avenue to continue to be competitive. I love to race. Cruising is really not for me... when I am on the water I want to be racing another boat or going around marks!

CP: Has sailing changed your perspective on life?

NR: YES! A whole new world has been opened up to me, and the sense of "wholeness" I feel is incredible. It allows you to totally get out of yourself because when you are on the water you forget everything and are completely focused on the task at hand. The people I have met have been amazing and so supportive and it has rekindled the "Dare to Dream" spirit deep within me. Our only limits we have in life are the limits we put on ourselves. Since I have started sailing, it has only intensified my attitude and belief that I can do anything in life that I choose to do. Disabled or not... life is all a state of mind! Your attitude determines your altitude in life!

CP: Can sailing help overcome physical and emotional barriers?

NR: Most definitely! Sailing is a great equalizer. Once you are in the boat we are all on level playing ground. The sense of freedom and satisfaction it gives only builds self-esteem and self-worth, which enhances our lives and only for the better.

CP: What are your campaign goals?

NR: After a great summer of sailing, I am seriously considering a run for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Brazil. I was fortunate enough to get out on a SKUD 18 owned by Rick Watters while in Canada and absolutely loved the boat!

CP: Do you have any mentors that have helped you?

NR: My Canadian friend John Muir has been instrumental in my short sailing career. He has been the biggest "enabler" and has the same "dream big" attitude as I do thinking that all things are possible no matter what! He has been a tremendous resource and the patience he has had in teaching a novice I commend him for! Jorg Pawlik, creator and designer of and the adaptive sailing devices, has also been instrumental in enabling me to sail boats such as the J/24 and J/22. I also have to thank everyone who has been out sailing with me. I learn from everyone I go out on the water with!

CP: How has your sailing 'evolved' since you started?

NR: I kind of exploded into the sailing world! I went from sailing a couple of times in May 2010 just cruising around Biscayne Bay to racing in my first regatta in June 2010... which was the Wyoming Governor's Cup and I raced in a 17 foot O'Day Day Sailer! My second regatta was the Day Sailer North Americans in Columbus, OH the first week of July 2010 and then the Aspen Regatta mid-July 2010. I raced in 3 regattas in one month and a total of 6 regattas in the summer of 2010! This year my sailing season started with the Leukemia Cup in Denver, CO, then out to Rye, NY the following weekend. Then off to the Wyo Governor's Cup, and so on... 

CP: What is your greatest strength?

NR: My attitude!

CP: What is your greatest weakness?

NR: Trimming the main! That's why you surround yourself with great tacticians and crew!

CP: Do you have any tips for someone who wishes to start sailing but might think it is an unachievable goal?

NR: Just go for it! What does a person have to lose? Life is all about taking risks. You never know if you can do something until you try! The beauty about sailing is that it is a lifelong sport. A person can just go out cruising or day sailing or can be as competitive as they wish to be and a fanatical racer.

CP: What are you involved with these days and which events are you planning to attend in the near future?

NR: I raced in the Robie Pierce One Design Disabled Regatta in Rye, NY in May. All the people involved and the organization of the event was absolutely fantastic! I raced in the Wyoming Governor's Cup June 18-19, 2011. I helped with an adaptive boating clinic at Horsetooth Reservoir in Ft Collins, CO June 24, 2011. It was with the National Sports Center for the Disabled out of Winter Park, CO and Adaptive Recreational opportunities out of Ft Collins, CO. June 30- July 3rd was the No Barriers Conference in Winter Park, CO and I went with John Muir of 'Whyditot' to promote sailing and get people out on the water in addition to showing the adaptive sailing devices that are available for anyone. Harry Horgan, the founder of Shake-A-Leg Miami, also came out west for the No Barriers Festival as did my friend Juan Carlos Gil, who is also a disabled sailor. Juan Carlos raced in the Wyoming Governor's Cup on a J/22 along with my friends David Daniel and David Kress (both Hobie sailors from Loveland, CO). The end of July I found myself in Redding, CA in my first Trapseat Hobie 16 Regatta, the Pan-Pacific Cup. I fell in love with the Hobie 16! August took me to Hamilton, Ontario, Canada for the 2011 Rotary Mobility Cup... it was an absolutely amazing event! I placed third in the Silver Fleet racing in Martin 16's and was named Miss Congeniality of the Regatta! I organized two sailing and kayaking clinics here in Laramie, WY in August and September and had a great turnout for both events. I just love giving back to the sport and getting people out on the water! I raced in the Oktoberfest Regatta Oct 1, 2011 in Longmont, CO and then will race in the Columbus Day Regatta at Chatfield Reservoir in Denver, CO on Oct 8 & 9, 2011.

CP: What is your favorite feature of the CleverPig website?

NR: The entire site is fantastic! It's hard to pick just one aspect... But I must say that to have our webpages up for free is quite a perk! And the layout and ease of building your own webpage is great. All the resources for coaches, donations, interviews... it's just a terrific site!


You can also find Nichole's interview on the Clever Pig website at 

About Clever Pig
The website brings together a wide range of resources and tools for racing sailors. Sailors can create their own campaign web page, calendar, resume and budget. They can apply for grants, search for coaches and get local knowledge about regatta venues. They will find resources on one-design classes and regattas, sample materials from previous campaigns, plus extensive lists of campaign FAQs and links. The tools and resources on the Clever Pig website are provided free for any sailor through the support of the Southport Sailing Foundation.

About the Southport Sailing Foundation   
The Southport Sailing Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that was founded to promote the sport of sailing, both regionally and nationally. A primary mission of the Foundation is to help prepare sailors, mainly youth and young adults, for national and international competitions at all levels of our sport. The Foundation was started several years ago in Connecticut by a group of sailors who grew up racing on Long Island Sound. Current Board members include Susan Daly, Brad Dellenbaugh, David Dellenbaugh, Kelly D. Laferriere, Bob Larsen, Dave Perry, Barry Simson, Mary Von Conta, John Watkins and Peter Wilson.
For more information:
Southport Sailing Foundation Inc.
P.O. Box 946, Southport, CT 06890

Southport Sailing Foundation  P.O. Box 946, Southport, CT 06890 Southport Sailing Foundation Board Members