Living , Modern



1965 -

Maureen McKinnon is not only a successful sailor, but also a disabled sailor who overcame physical challenges to excel in the sport. McKinnon learned to sail at age 20, after suffering a fall from a seawall in Maine in 1995 that left her paralyzed at the age of 13. It was a chance encounter with a fellow wheel-chair bound sailor that put her on the path to Olympic glory. Despite her physical challenges, McKinnon refused to let her disability hold her back. She became a member of the Challenged America Sailing Program, a non-profit organization that helps people with disabilities learn to sail and compete at the highest level.

McKinnon’s exceptional skills and determination quickly earned her recognition as a formidable competitor in adaptive sailing. She competed in numerous adaptive sailing events, including the North American Challenge Cup and the World Disabled Sailing Championship, winning several regattas and championships along the way. One of McKinnon’s most notable accomplishments was winning the 1996 Paralympic Sailing Silver Medal in the 2.4mR class. The Paralympic Sailing competition is a highly respected event that brings together the best adaptive sailors from around the world. McKinnon’s Silver Medal was a testament to her exceptional skills and unwavering determination. Maureen McKinnon sailed to a Gold Medal with NSHOF inductee Nick Scandone (Class of 2022) at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games in the two-person SKUD-18 (NS was skipper, MM was crew). In doing so, she became the first disabled women to win Olympic Gold in sailing.

McKinnon also worked tirelessly to promote adaptive sailing and encourage more people with disabilities to get involved in the sport. She was a vocal advocate for disability rights and worked with numerous organizations to raise awareness about the importance of inclusion and accessibility in sports. Today, McKinnon’s legacy continues to inspire adaptive sailors around the world. Her remarkable achievements serve as a reminder that with hard work, dedication, and perseverance, anyone can achieve their dreams, regardless of their physical challenges.

In conclusion, Maureen McKinnon’s accomplishments as an adaptive sailor are a testament to her remarkable talent and determination. Despite the challenges she faced, McKinnon refused to let her disability hold her back and became a trailblazer in the adaptive sailing world. Her legacy continues to inspire countless adaptive sailors around the world, and her contributions to the sport of sailing will be remembered for generations to come. McKinnon also competed at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games, also in the SKUD-18 with skipper Ryan Porteous. Additionally, she has competed in at least 8 SKUD-18 World Championships, earning a Silver Medal with Scandone at the 2007 event.

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