Equipment funding helped sailor Lutes map course to Paralympic medal

December 15, 2016

The critical difference equipment can make - highlighted by fundraising campaign

(December 15, 2016) Paralympic bronze medallist Scott Lutes always enjoyed sailing with his friends but one day he decided he was going to be the driver rather than the passenger. Then with some help targeting his equipment, he eventually became a Paralympic Games medallist.

The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games were Lutes’ second Paralympic Games. He placed 10th in London in 2012. However for 2016, an important equipment change took him and his Sonar crewmates Paul Tingley and Logan Campbell from medal pretenders to contenders. They won the bronze medal in a dramatic last race manoeuvre in Rio.

In 2011 before London, Lutes was already prototyping benches for the Sonar boat, which could improve mobility for a paraplegic.

“In 2013-14 we had a chance to go back and prototype some new stuff based on our experience and support from the equipment fund which made them better, stronger and more lightweight,” he said. “That was a huge benefit for us. Going into the Paralympics we were in the top tier and as good as anybody. The (equipment) funding was the difference to being good enough to win a medal.’’

Prior to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, Lutes’ Sonar crew placed third at the Miami World Cup in 2015, fifth at the world championships in 2015, second at the world championships in 2014 and first at the Miami World Cup in 2016.

‘’The impact from the funding was immediate,’’ Lutes said. ‘’We had already done some prototyping so we had a lot of really good ideas. To be able to take that all to the next level was just a treat. We worked with people experienced in fibreglass and used techniques we weren’t able to execute. “It took it all to a much higher level for us.’’

Lutes became a wheelchair user after a motor vehicle accident in 1974. He started competitive sailing in 2007 in the Martin 16 and 2.4mR classes, at the Pointe-Claire Yacht Club, west of Montreal. Winning his first Martin 16 regatta, Coupe de Québec, gave him a real appetite for racing. In August 2011, he tried out for a position on the three-person Sonar. He joined the national team full-time in November 2011.

The world Sonar championships are scheduled for Lunenberg, N.S. in September 2017 and Lutes plans to compete at that event.

Equipment funding is one key area supported by the Paralympic Foundation of Canada’s Giving All Kids A Sporting Chance fundraising campaign, which is running through the holiday season. Donations raised go towards the Parasport Jumpstart Fund, supporting the costs of sports and recreational programs for children with a disability aged four to 18, who are financially disadvantaged.

Canadian Tire Corporation is matching donations of up to $25,000. For more information or to make a donation, please visit: