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Sailing into his dreams

Man wins two sailing victories in Paralympics, earning a gold medal. Supporters in Newport Beach ecstatic for him.

September 12, 2008|By Michael Miller

Former UCI All-American sailor Nick Scandone, who drew a wave of local support before heading off to the Paralympic Games in China, clinched a gold medal in sailing Friday.

Scandone, who has Lou Gehrig’s Disease, secured the medal in the SKUD-18 sailing class. He and his sailing partner, Maureen McKinnon-Tucker of Marblehead, Mass., won a pair of races Friday and plan to compete in two more today, even though they’ve already clinched the title.

“He and Maureen have done, really, the model campaign and worked really hard and have worked very well together,” said Dean Brenner, the chairman of the U.S. Olympic sailing program. “It has been really pleasant to watch them grow as a team. It’s really been impressive to watch from a close seat on the sidelines.”

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Scandone could not be reached for comment from China Friday, but he said in a news release that his victory fulfilled a decades-long dream.

“I feel exhausted, very satisfied and somewhat overwhelmed all at the same time,” he said. “It’s been such a long road to get here. It’s emotionally overwhelming for me to finally realize my goal.”

Scandone previously won the U.S. Disabled National Championship in 2004 and 2005. Before he departed for the games in China, Island Marine Fuel on Balboa Island hosted a fundraiser for him and the Balboa Yacht Club gave him a send-off party.

Scandone, 42, is a member of the yacht club, which raised funds for training and boat purchases over the last four years. Although he lives in Fountain Valley, the Paralympics lists his hometown as Newport Beach — and he had quite a few Newporters cheering for him when he and McKinnon-Tucker clinched the gold. Wendy Potts, a member of the Balboa Yacht Club who spearheaded the fundraising, said she and her friends planned to share a toast at the club Friday night.

She noted that Scandone, who tried out for the regular Olympics 20 years ago, is a consummate athlete in any condition.

“He’s an incredible sailor,” Potts said. “A lot of the skills required for sailing are in your head, and since they are sailing on boats that were designed to be adapted for Paralympic sailors, we knew technically he was as good as anybody who’s going to be at the Olympics, able-bodied or not.”


MICHAEL MILLER may be reached at (714) 966-4617 or at michael.miller@latimes.com.

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