Generous boat owners save Special Olympics sailing competition

Generous boat owners save Special Olympics sailing competition
The sailing competition takes place despite potential blockade. (Photo Source: WLOX News)

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The 2016 Special Olympics sailing competition almost didn't set sail on Saturday. But, thanks to a few generous people, the games were able to go on as planned.

Strong storms ripped through South Mississippi earlier in the week, damaging boats and leaving them unfit to sail.

"All of the water spouts that they were talking about that came through Biloxi," said Special Olympics sailing coach Stacey Perry. "Apparently, one of them hit six of our sail boats."

On Friday, Seabees worked to pull in the watercrafts and assess the damage.

"We had bent mass, three of the four mass' that we had were ruined [and] they can't be repaired. Bent frames for the trampolines, we had shrouds that actually cut through the hole and two roters that were sheared in half," said Christopher Walton, Keesler Master Sergeant.

Frantically looking for options, officials contacted WLOX News Now to get the word out about their misfortune.

"Immediately after the call to LOX, I immediately put a call out to the fleet captain [of] Ocean Spring Yacht Club, J. Shuman, and he sent out a feeler for all the Hobie 16 owners," said Walton. "Before 1 o'clock, I had four volunteer boats."

The sailing regatta was able to take off as planned, and without athletes knowing there was a problem. As for the weather, things got pretty heated.

"It's hot. Let's get it over with and not play no games," said Fredi Gonzales, one of the athletes.

In the end, it was Gonzales and her partner Jimmy Brenner who came out as victorious.

"It was very competitive, two of the races we started from behind. We were able to catch up to other boats and eventually pass them," said Brenner.

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