Blind sailor hopes to make historic voyage

SYLVIA BADGER

July 23, 1993|By SYLVIA BADGER

Never in his wildest dreams did Hank Dekker think that one day he would become a much talked about trans-Atlantic sailor. Especially since Dekker didn't take up sailing until after he lost his sight to glaucoma 16 years ago.

However, on Monday morning, when Dekker sets sail from in front of the Maryland Science Center for Plymouth, England, the "Today" show will report live on his departure. Sports Illustrated and Germany's Stern also are doing stories on this remarkable man.

While he may not be the first person to attempt an Atlantic crossing alone in a 30-foot boat, if he is successful he will be the first blind man to complete such a journey. In 1983, he made

sailing history when he sailed from San Francisco to Hawaii alone, surviving a hurricane. In 1986 he came in third place in the prestigious trans-Pacific races against two dozen sighted racers.

Dekker's boat, the NFB, is named for the sponsor of his trip, the National Federation of the Blind. It's armed with the latest nautical equipment, complete with a Braille compass and maps. The trip should take 18 to 30 days. Here's to smooth sailing, Hank.

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Certainly Sports Illustrated's swimsuit model, Cathy Ireland, caused quite a stir when she stopped by the Mt. Washington Tavern to sign a few baseballs before the All-Star Game. But if you missed that, the next best thing might be taking place Wednesday night, when Ireland "wannabes" strut their stuff in the Tavern's 6th Annual Best Body Off the Beach Contest, and, vie for some of the more than $1,000 in cash and prizes.

Channel 2's "Big" Don O'Brien has agreed to lend his expertise and emcee the event. He'll be joined by Channel 2 sports personality Keith Mills, who is very much married, but has agreed to join Baltimore bachelors Jim Huelskamp, Geoff Brent, Craig Pfeifer, Bernie Martin and Bill Grebe, to judge the competition. Contestants should don swimsuits and register at the Tavern after 7:30 p.m. or you can call general manager Rob Frisch, (410) 367-6903 to pre-register. I hasten to add that this isn't just rowdy fun, the serious side is that these annual Best Body promotions ** also have raised nearly $2,000 for area charities. The proceeds will be donated to the Child Abuse Center of Maryland.

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On October 2, Baltimore becomes the newest city to join 35 others in the Race for the Cure, a 5K run/walk for women and a 1-mile fun walk for everyone else.

Race for the Cure was conceived and designed by Dallas socialite Nancy Brinker, who founded the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation in Texas after her sister's death from breast cancer in 1980.

Nancy's dynamic step-daughter, Brenda Bottum, now resides here, and is spearheading Baltimore's involvement in this nationwide breast cancer awareness campaign, with Ann Polk, a breast cancer survivor. Dr. Patricia Schmoke is the honorary chair. This is certain to be a "happening" and if you want to participate, call (410) 433-RACE to register, and I will see you there!

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Orioles pitcher Mike Mussina got the 8th Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Charity Golf Classic off to a great start with a spectacular drive. He was among more than 100 golfers teeing off several weeks ago at Wakefield Valley Golf and Conference Center.

Golfers Dr. Tom Bouchelle, Mercy Hospital; Gary Furhman, BG&E; Todd Frohwirth, Baltimore Orioles; Dr. Jim Jordan, Columbia Medical Plan; Al Kirkner, ABAR Partnership; Sally and Hank Majewski, owners of Wakefield Valley; Bill McCarty, Cambell/Swanson Foods; and Ed Shauck, Carroll County Bank & Trust, enjoyed a great day on the links and helped raise more than $14,000 for MS, much to the delight of tourney chairs Janice and Bob Kirkner.

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Kudos to: The staff of radio station WMIX 106.5 FM and its listeners who came through with 90,000 pounds of supplies for ** the flooded-out residents of Des Moines, Iowa. Thanks to the generosity of Road Skill Inc., a professional driver training company in Pasadena, who supplied the two 18-wheelers and drivers, the items were delivered yesterday. I hear MIX morning man, Chris Bailey, went along for the ride. One truckload was delivered to the Food Bank of Iowa, and the other drove through local communities offering a variety of goods, from water to pet food, said MIX spokeswoman Dawn Tritaik.

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