Inspirational North East sailor wins silver in Blind World Fleet Racing Championship

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A blind South Tyneside council employee has brought home a silver medal after representing Britain in an international sailing competition.

Chris Albert, 49, from Washington, represented Great Britain in the Blind World Fleet Racing Championship in Chicago earlier this month.

The technical support officer for the council’s Hearing and Visually Impaired Service- who lost his sight as a result of diabetes- was a member of the four-man crew in the competition which saw around 15 teams from across the globe competing over four days of racing between September 9 and 13.

Despite suffering an injury before he set out for Chicago, which nearly stopped him from competing, Chris overcame challenging sailing conditions during the race along with his team to come away with the silver medal.

“I am over the moon that we won the silver medal. It was an amazing experience to go out and compete at that level against tough competition from across the world,” he siad.

“We were faced with extremely challenging conditions during the race from handling a new boat for the first time to varying conditions and the high heat. Our ability to communicate was the key to our success as we had to work effectively as a team.

“I would like to thank all of the volunteers who helped raise funds which enabled me to take part in the race. It has been quite an experience.”

During the race Chris was responsible for handling the mainsheet of the vessel while another visually impaired sailor was at the helm and two sighted members of the team painted the pictures of the conditions so the correct adjustments could be made.

The Mayor, Councillor Richard Porthouse, said: “I am delighted to hear about Chris’s remarkable achievement as part of the GB blind sailing crew after competing against teams from across the world, in Chicago.

“His success is truly inspiring and he is a terrific ambassador for both South Tyneside and the Council.”