Five US Athletes to Compete at the 2023 Para Sailing World Championship

Five US Para Sailing athletes across four classes will be headed to The Hague, The Netherlands August 11 – 16 for the 2023 Allianz Sailing World Championships. This year is the first edition of the combined World Championships to include Para World Sailing events with the Hansa 303, 2.4mR and RS Venture classes featured. 

The Para Sailing events will be held on Braassemermeer Lake, an inland lake north of The Hague’s ocean venue. There are two championship courses – one for the 2.4m class and one for the 20 boats in the Hansa 303 (male and female) and the RS-Venture class (8 boats/16 teams). The Hansa 303 and RS Venture Connect boats are provided by the venue, and competitors must switch boats between races. Two races will be sailed per day in each class. 

While sailors will be in competition for individual medals across the four classes, teams will also compete for the Nations Bowl, awarded to the best overall nation at the Para World Championships. The Cup will be awarded to the top nation using the combined scores of all country athletes across the Women’s Hansa 303, Men’s Hansa 303, RS Venture Connect, and 2.4mR. This is a newly donated trophy to World Sailing to be awarded for the first time. 

About the Athletes

Betsy Alison (Newport, R.I.) 

Boat: Women’s Hansa 303

Well known to many in the sailing community, Betsy Alison is a 5x Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, ISAF Sailor of the Year, and multi-discipline World Champion. Alison grew up sailing Sunfish on Barnegat Bay in NJ and honed her skills in college at Tufts University, before moving on to many one design classes. Alison has also been the long-time coach for the US Paralympic Sailing Team, bringing home medals in every Paralympic Games from 2000 through 2016. 

While Alison has spent many years coaching the Para Sailing Team, a major hip surgery due to cancer in 2022 made her eligible to compete as a para sailor. This will be her first major para sailing event.  

Jim Thweatt (San Fransisco, C.A.) 

Boat: Men’s Hansa 303 

Jim Thweatt has been a regular face in the Hansa fleet out of San Francisco for the past 20 years. Thweatt is a seasoned Para Sailor, having competed at multiple World Championships in the Sonar and Hansa 303. He was 9th at the 2022 Hansa 303 World Championship in Enoshima, Japan, as well as winner of the Hansa 303 class at the 2023 Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series, among others.  

Thweatt is an active member of the BAADS organization (Bay Area Association of Dinghy Sailors): an organization dedicated to providing sailing opportunities and programming to people with disabilities in the San Francisco area.  

Shan McAdoo (Essex, M.A.) 

Boat: RS Venture Connect, sailing with Maureen McKinnon

Shan McAdoo was introduced to sailing at an early age, having spent his youth living on a 48-foot sailboat with his family. McAdoo moved to the one design sailing world, where he saw success across several classes, including the Etchells, Rhodes 19, and 2.4m.   

McAdoo is experienced in the para sailing world, having won the 2009 Clagett Regatta in the SKUD18 and the 2022 US Para Sailing Championship in the Martin 14. He and his sailing partner Maureen McKinnon train out of Community Boating, Inc. in Boston. McAdoo lives with Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (SPMS) and uses walkers and a wheelchair. 

Maureen McKinnon (Salem, M.A.) 

Boat: RS Venture Connect, sailing with Shan McAdoo 

Maureen McKinnon is a legend in the world of Para Sailing – she and sailing partner Nick Scandone sailed their way to a Paralympic Gold Medal at the Games in 2008. McKinnon learned to sail when she was young but temporarily left the sport when she was paralyzed from the waist down  after a fall in 1995. McKinnon was inspired to start sailing again by Rick Doerr, who she campaigned the Sonar with for the 2004 Games, before joining forces with Scandone for the Games in Beijing.  

In Beijing she became the first woman to represent the United States in sailing at a Paralympic Games and the first woman to medal gold in Paralympic Sailing. McKinnon is a regular at Para Sailing events across the country, including the US Para Sailing Championship. She is a motivational speaker and mother of two. 

John Seepe (Erie, P.A.) 

Boat: 2.4m 

John Seepe began his sailing career as an adult, after buying a 26-foot Thunderbird. He was enticed to do some racing by a friend and fell in love with the sport. From there he progressed to a Peterson 34 and Farr 40, until losing his leg in an accident in 2018, after which he temporarily gave up dreams of sailing.  

Seepe was inspired to get back to sailing by the The Stars & Stripes team of Mike Buckley and Taylor Canfield, who took him out for a sail on their M32, showing him that he could sail again. After this encounter reignited his interest, Seepe was the recipient of a 2.4m Clagett Grant Boat, allowing him to compete in several national 2.4m events. He is currently the president of the National 2.4m Class Association.  


Racing will take place August 11-16, with a medal race day August 16.  

How to Watch

Follow the action with daily updates on the US Sailing Facebook and Instagram stories, along with regular scores updated on the US Sailing Website. Medal races for each class, including the Para Sailing medal race on August 16, will be livestreamed. Stay tuned to the US Sailing website, Facebook and Instagram for updates. 

About the Boats

The RS Venture Connect is a 4.9 meter, two-sailed keelboat with an asymmetrical spinnaker designed for up to six sailors but sailed doublehanded in the Para configuration. The boat can be configured for sailors at all levels of disability, from 1 (most severe) to 7 (least severe). 

The 2.4m is a singlehanded, two-sailed keelboat sailed by both disabled and non-disabled sailors. Controls are displayed in front of the helmsperson, and sailors can steer using either hands or feet depending on ability and preference. The sailor’s weight is close to the center of gravity, therefore size and fitness level of the sailor have a negligible impact on speed. The 2.4m was formerly the singlehanded Paralympic boat.  

The Hansa 303 is a 3.03 meter, two-sailed keelboat, sailed by one person in the Para Sailing configuration. Sailors sit facing forward and control the boat via a joystick control.  

Cheer on the Athletes!

The team has a very good chance of bringing home some hardware, and invite you to join US Sailing, The St. Francis Sailing Foundation, Clagett Sailing, and other individual donors in supporting this star-studded team as they make waves at the Para Sailing World Championships.


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