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ASH BRITTENHAM

Smooth Sailing

“Want to control your destiny? GIVE SAILING A TRY!”

A 17-year-old self-proclaimed “dork,” Ash Brittenham laughed as he described his future in audio design and media production. Ash is graduating from Montpelier High School and moving to a southern city after a life of Vermont’s slow living.

Along with comics, Legos and art, Ash also enjoys sailing on Malletts Bay with the Northeast Disabled Athletic Association (NDAA). As a person who has Muscular Dystrophy, he is lifted out his wheelchair and into the sleek low-slung boat, where he and a partner work together to sail across Lake Champlain.

Sailing gives Ash confidence because he succeeds at something he never knew he could do. “Going in, I thought I would just be given a ride, but they brought a new aspect to my boating experience,” he explained. “On my first sail I was steering the boat.”

NDAA’s adapted Martin 16 requires minimal hand movement and needs just a low amount of wind to steer the boat well. Each time out he learned more skills from his US Sailing instructors to help him get better navigating the wind and reading the waves. “Getting in that boat and out on the water has taught me anyone can sail,” he said.

At the time of this writing, Ash was waiting for the snow to melt so he could get back to sailing. He also likes to give his little brother rides on his power wheelchair on the Waterbury Center State Park Universal Access Trail alongside the reservoir.

Ash plans to return to Vermont for sailing in the summers because, “sailing your own ship is badass!”