Way back in 2006, I was asked to coach at Craftsbury. Two adaptive scullers would be at the camp for a week and that was when I first met James and Linda Mumford.
They both were born with Usher’s syndrome, a condition characterized by partial or total hearing loss and vision loss that worsens over time. Linda is totally blind and James is partially blind and deaf, but they both have cochlear implants to give them limited hearing.
In 2006 I helped coached James and Linda in a double on Great Hosmer Pond. I would follow them in a launch for each session.
The following year in 2007 I received word that James and Linda would be returning for another week at Craftsbury, but this year they wanted to scull in singles. I worked together with Linda for the week. This year I ended up coaching from my single while wearing a mic and a transmitter so Linda would be able to hear me. At the end of the week Linda raced in her single in the Head of the Hosmer race. I stayed a few lengths ahead to provide steering advice, but Linda covered the course in the single.
This morning I was reading Row2k and came across this article: “Remote Coxswain leads to success for blind rowers in Sarasota“. James and Linda have been experimenting with sculling a double and a single with a remote controlled rudder system designed by Bob Berry. Take a moment to read the article to learn more.
I have the fondest memories of coaching Linda and James at Craftsbury. It comes as no surprise that they continue to be trail blazers in using technology to continue their adventures on the water!