Jerry O’Dovero (quadriplegic, paraplegic, disabled )

A few weeks ago I went sailing another time with Kip. This time my friend Jackie came along. Again it was in the BAADS’s keelboat. While I’ve known Kip for 10 years, I’ve known Jackie for more than 30. She’s from my home town. As luck would have it, Jackie and her late husband Mark moved just an hour’s drive from me 15(?) years ago. They’re both wonderful friends. I spent many a night visiting them up north. Several of them were for Christmas. It’s sad when you lose someone as nice as Mark, but then someone said that God doesn’t want the assholes in heaven. I guess that’s why the world is full of jerks.

Last week I went sailing again in the keelboat with Steve and Kristina. Kristina is also from my home town. Steve is from the east coast, but I don’t hold that against him. Just kidding! Actually I’m the luckiest man on earth. Some of you might look at my picture and see a wheelchair and say really? But yes I am! And when I tell you some of the betrayal that I’ve lived through, please remember, I’m still the luckiest man on earth.

The sailing was fun. Just like with Kip and Jackie, the America’s cup race was taking place. The U.S. boat, Oracle Team USA, was down in the series verses New Zealand. The team that wins 9 races first wins the cup (Americas Cup). New Zealand was up 8-1 at one point. But team USA battled back. They started winning races. But coming back from an 8-1 deficit is nearly impossible. Impossible? Life is funny. Just when you think all hope is lost, if you don’t give up, impossible can happen. A race that New Zealand is winning gets canceled because of high winds. Another race is canceled because of time. And before you know it its Sunday and Steve, Kristina and I are sailing on the San Francisco bay and the Americas Cup race is still going on.

The score is now 8-6. Yes, Team USA has won the last 5 races. When I booked the weekend for sailing I never expected to be watching the Americas Cup. I thought there would be a lot of San Franciscans crying in their beers. Also on the sail boat with us were Joy, Donna and the skipper Chris. Our vantage point to the race was near buoy 4. Both boats had to go around it twice. After the second time it was just a short dash line. You can never understand how fast those race boats go. They go from zero to more than 40 mph in seconds. Most of the time 95% of the boat isn’t even touching the water. If I remember right, they couldn’t race if the winds were over 25 mph. How can a sail boat being powered by the wind go nearly twice as fast as the wind?

Our Sunday sail was going to end in one of two ways. New Zealand wins the first race and the Americas cup and we sail around the bay enjoying the day. Team USA wins the first race and we are excited for it and stay near the course for race number two. Since we were buoy 4, we could see Team USA making the turn around it first. A little sailing around for a while and then it was watched to see who was leading on the return. Then it happened, Team USA leading. Soon and I mean soon Team USA made the turn for the finish line and won the first race.

Our sail around the bay just got postponed. And everyone on the BAADS keelboat was happy for it. We did go for a short sail while waiting for the second race or I like to think, only 2 wins away. I like to look at things in a positive light. Team USA doesn’t have to win 8 races in a row anymore. They only have to win 2 races to win the Americas Cup. On our leisurely sail, Chris points to an old vintage looking sail boat with two tall masts. The sail boat had to be more than 40’ long, maybe in the 50s. Chris points to it an says that that sail boat was a replica of the very first boat to win the Americas Cup. Sure enough, as we circled around the back of the boat I seen its name, America.

Race two started and we sailed back to our vantage point near the buoy. You should have seen the excitement on the sail boat when Team USA was leading. OK maybe it was just me, but I was excited. A while later and we see in the distance that Team USA had a big lead. They were going to win! They came around the buoy and headed for the finish line. A few minutes later the San Francisco bay erupted with the sound of boat horns.

Our day of sailing was going to end with smiles all around. It was getting late, but we all agreed to take a sail under the new Bay Bridge. First around Treasure Island, a manmade island for the navy, then under the new bridge and finally around Yerba Buena Island.

I’m the luckiest man on earth because I have great friends. Oh, before I forget, Team USA won the last race and the Americas Cup!