Rick Doerr, Sonar
CREW: Brad Kendell, Hugh Freund
US SAILING TEAM SPERRY: 1998-Present
HOMETOWN: Clifton, N.J.
MEMBER: Noroton Yacht Club
HIGH SCHOOL: Montclair Kimberly Academy
UNIVERSITY: New England College (graduated 1982)
BIRTHDAY: Nov. 21, 1960
BIRTH PLACE: Passaic, N.J.
HOMETOWN: Clifton, N.J.
OCCUPATION: Physician, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon
FACEBOOK: Team USA One
AGENT/PRESS INQUIRIES: Contact Will Ricketson, US Sailing
Rick Doerr learned to sail as a kid in New Jersey, but could not have predicted the outsized role the sport would later play in his life. In his further year of residency as a physician, he was paralyzed in a car crash. Rediscovering the sport as part of his healing process, Doerr dedicated himself to racing in a way few national team athletes ever have. Doerr is the longest-tenured member of the US Sailing Team, and was a 2007 Disabled Sailing World Champion and Beijing 2008 Paralympian.
Hugh Freund joined up with Doerr in 2007, with Kendell joining them shortly afterwords. Together the team of Doerr, Kendell and Freund have won seven Sailing World Cup medals over two Paralympic four-year cycles, along with numerous other victories.
In 2015, the trio won the Sunbrella Golden Torch Award at Sailing World Cup Miami, given to the top American performer at North America’s premier Olympic and Paralympic classes regatta. They were the first adaptive team ever to win the honor.
In April 2016, Doerr, Kendell and Freund qualified for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Rio 2016 (Sailing): Sonar Silver for Doerr, Kendell and Freund at Paralympic Games
With a victory in the final race of the event, U.S. Paralympic Team sailors Rick Doerr (Clifton, N.J.), Brad Kendell (Tampa, Fla.) and Hugh Freund (South Freeport, Maine) won silver medals in the Sonar class, the three-person Paralympic keelboat. For all three sailors it is the first Paralympic medal of their careers. Gold in the Sonar was won by the Australian team of Colin Harrison, Russell Boaden and Jonathan Harris. Bronze was secured by Paul Tingley, Logan Campbell and Scott Lutes of Canada. Several teams were in the running for the podium coming into the 6th and final day of the sailing events of Rio 2016, but Team USA saved their best race for last to win silver in dramatic fashion.
“Rick, Brad, and Hugh sailed a great series and earned their silver medal today by racing smart and fast in the final race, on a difficult course and under pressure,” said Josh Adams, Managing Director of U.S. Olympic Sailing, who served as Team Leader for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. “They’ve worked incredibly hard as a team over the years and deserve this result.”
Doerr, Kendell and Freund entered Rio 2016 as the reigning Para Sailing World Champions and had high hopes for a podium performance. Doerr, the helmsman, is the longest-tenured athlete on the U.S. Sailing Team, having campaigned for the Paralympic Games almost continuously since 1998. Rio 2016 was his second Paralympic appearance following an 8th place performance in Beijing 2008 with different teammates. For Kendell and Freund, Rio 2016 is their first career appearance at the Games.
“We came into today in a similar position as we had at the World Championship earlier this year, with everything to play for on the final day,” said Freund on the dock. “We really sailed the way the three of us know how to sail this boat.”
Kendell said that it was hard to put into words what this means for the three tight-knit athletes. “2016 has been unbelievable, and this is the year we’ve worked so hard for. Coming in as World Champions, you don’t want to let it get inside your head, but you know at least that you have a chance to medal.”
The team also paid tribute to their coach, Mike Ingham (Rochester, N.Y.) who worked intensively with Doerr, Kendell and Freund for the final two year years of the Rio 2016 quadrennium. “We had talent on our team, but Mike figured out how to make it all work,” said Freund. “If you look at our trajectory, it’s a huge testament to his ability as a coach to get the most out of people.” Ingham holds over 20 U.S. national and North American one-design sailing titles, and helped Doerr, Kendell and Freund win their first world championship as a team.
Doerr (56), a surgeon in his professional life, sustained an injury in a 1992 car accident that left him wheelchair-bound. Doerr had grown up sailing in New Jersey, but when he heard that sailing was to be a demonstration sport at the Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games, it started him on a new and eventful path in the sport. Doerr narrowly missed qualifying for Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000, and Athens 2004 before joining the U.S. Paralympic Team at Beijing 2008. As was the case in Brazil, Doerr entered the Games in China as the reigning Para Sailing World Champion, but he and his team could not find their way to the podium. Undaunted, Doerr teamed up with Kendell and Freund for a run at London 2012, and again narrowly missed selection.
Despite this setback, the three teammates profoundly enjoyed sailing together, and committed to campaigning for Rio 2016. Doerr’s longevity at the highest levels of adaptive sailing, as well as his success, makes his story all the more remarkable. As sailing has been removed from the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games by the IPC, it is possible that Rio 2016 represented the last chance for the three sailors to accomplish their long-held goal.
Pictured: Rick Doerr, Brad Kendell and Hugh Freund, Sonar Class.
Kendell (35) comes from a family of professional sailors, and his father Bruce got him started in the sport at age 7. A 2003 plane crash that claimed the lives of his father and a friend necessitated the amputation of both of Kendell’s legs above the knee. Kendell also sustained significant burns across his body, and the healing process was both long difficult. Getting back into the sport of sailing through adaptive competition proved therapeutic for the native Floridian, and a way to both remember and honor his father. Now a father himself, Kendell has said that long weeks on the road away from his family is the toughest aspect of the Paralympic path.
Freund (28) hails from the coast of Maine, and like his teammates is a lifelong sailor. During a 2007 ski trip, Freund discovered a problem with his leg that eventually revealed itself as an aggressive form of bone cancer. Freund survived the illness, but his right foot was amputated during his freshman year at Roger Williams University. Following a suggestion from his college sailing coach, Amanda Callahan (Bristol, R.I), Freund began competing in adaptive sailing, and quickly qualified for the U.S. Sailing Team. In an interesting twist of fate, one of Freund’s earliest coaches at the local Harraseeket Yacht Club in Maine was Dave Hughes (Miami, Fla.) who competed on the same race courses in August as part the Rio 2016 U.S. Olympic Sailing Team.
In addition to their 2016 accomplishments, the American Sonar team has amassed an impressive list of successes during their six years of racing together. The trio has won five medals at Sailing World Cup Miami, North America’s premier Olympic and Paralympic classes regatta, since joining forces. In 2015, Doerr, Kendell and Freund won the Sunbrella Golden Torch Award in Miami, given to the top-performing American boat at the event. They were the first Paralympic-class athletes to gain this distinction in the 26-year history of the event.
Pictured: Team USA Sonar (Doerr/Kendell/Freund) reach the dock after medaling at Rio 2016.
Standings: Rio 2016 Paralympic Sailing Competition (Final)
Sonar (Three-Person Keelboat):
- AUS – HARRISON Colin, HARRIS Jonathan, BOADEN Russell: 26
- USA – DOERR Rick, FREUND Hugh, KENDELL Brad: 44
- CAN – TINGLEY Paul, LUTES Scott, CAMPBELL Logan: 51
- NZL – DODSON Richard, MAY Andrew, SHARP Chris: 51
- NOR – WANG-HANSEN Aleksander, SOLBERG Marie, KRISTIANSEN Per Eugen: 54
- GER – KLOTZING Lasse, KROKER Jens, MAINKA Siegmund: 55
- GRE – CHRISTOFOROU Vasileios, ALEXAS Theodoros, NOTAROGLOU Anargyros: 58
- ISR – COHEN Dror, BEN YAKOV Shimon, EFRATI Arnon: 59
- GBR – ROBERTSON John, THOMAS Stephen, STODEL Hannah: 64
- FRA – JOURDREN Bruno, FLAGEUL Eric, VIMONT-VICARY Nicolas: 89
- BRA – DO CARMO Antonio Marcos, GONCALVES DE ABREU Jose Matias, FERREIRA ANASTACIO Herivelton: 104
- ITA – RAGGI Gianluca, PIRA Gian Bachisio, SOLAZZO Fabrizio: 109
- IRL – TWOMEY John, O’CARROLL Austin, COSTELLOE Ian: 111
- ESP – LLOBET BALCELLS Francisco, ALVAREZ GARCIA Hector, GIMENO UGARTE Manuel: 114
U.S. Paralympic Sailing Team:
- Rio 2016 Team Viewing Guide
- Team Homepage
- Team News Archive
- Photos: Team Gallery
- Video: US Sailing Team YouTube Channel
- The Rio Report (Daily News Update)
- Daily Reports:
- Preview – Rio 2016 (Sailing): Opening Paralympic Races Set For Monday
- Day 1 – Rio 2016 (Sailing): Team USA Top Six In All Para Classes
- Day 2 – Rio 2016 (Sailing): Light Winds Challenge Para Fleets
- Day 3 – Rio 2016 (Sailing): Team USA Sonar Climbs Leaderboard
- Day 4 – Rio 2016 (Sailing): U.S. Para Team Battles At The Top As Regatta Enters Final Stage
- Day 5: Rio 2016 (Sailing): U.S. Paralympic Sonar, 2.4mR Will Challenge for Medals On Saturday
SIGNIFICANT SAILING ACHIEVEMENTS
- 2016: Silver, Rio 2016 Paralympic Games
- 2016: Gold, Para Sailing World Championship, Medemblik, The Netherlands
- 2016: Bronze, Sailing World Cup Hyeres, France
- 2015: Silver, Sailing World Cup Miami, Presented by Sunbrella
- 2015: Sunbrella Golden Torch Award, Sailing World Cup Miami (Top American team across all classes)
- 2014: Bronze, Sailing World Cup Miami
- 2013: Bronze, Sailing World Cup Miami
- 2011: Bronze, Semaine Olympique Francaise (Hyères)
- 2010: Bronze, U.S. Sailing Rolex Miami OCR
- 2009: Bronze, U.S. Sailing Rolex Miami OCR
- 2009: Gold, Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta
- 2009: Third place, sonar – U.S. Sailing Rolex Miami OCR, Miami, Florida
- 2008: U.S. Paralympic Team member, Sailing – Paralympic Games, Beijing, China
- 2008: First place – U.S. National Disabled Championships, Rye, N.Y.
- 2007: U.S. Olympic Committee Paralympian of the Year, Sailing Team Award
- 2007: First place – IFDS Disabled Sailing World Championships, Rochester, N.Y.
- 2007: First place – U.S. Paralympic Team Trials, Newport, R.I.
- 2006: U.S. Olympic Committee Paralympic Athlete of the Year, Sailing
- 2006: First place – U.S. Sailing Pre-Trials, Newport, R.I.
- 2006: First place – America’s Disabled Open Midwinter Championships, St. Petersburg, Fla.
- 2005: First place – America’s Regatta, St. Petersburg, Fla.
- 2005: First place – Disabled Midwinter Championships, St. Petersburg, Fla.