A council worker is setting course to defend his world sailing title in the USA.
Chris Albert, who works for South Tyneside Council, has been chosen to represent Great Britain in the World Blind Fleet Race in Chicago in September.
The 51-year-old is a technical support officer for the council’s hearing and visually impaired service and will again take his place as part of a four-man crew
Chris, from Washington, lost his sight as a result of diabetes.
The team scooped the championship title last year in the event which will be decided over four days of racing.
Chris said: “I have been in training all year round to get into the crew and I found out this week I had made the team. It was an amazing feeling to know I had made the team again.
People think when you are picked to represent your country in sailing, everything is paid for, it isn’t. We have to fund a lot of the costs ourselves.Chris Albert
“Sailing is something I enjoy doing and being able to represent Great Britain is fantastic.
“When you lose something like your sight and still be able to compete is brilliant. When you go to these contests, everyone is so competitive, despite their loss of sight.”
Chris has been sailing since the age of 15 and, when he lost his sight in 2008, he thought he would have to give up on his passion.
However, he was assisted in carrying on later being contacted by the Great Britain Blind Sailing Club.
Chris sails with South Shields Sailing Club.
Chris has now launched a fundraising drive in a bid to raise the £2,000 needed to help him on his way to America.
“The sport does take up a lot of my time and is quite expensive.
“At one point I considered giving it up as it does cost a lot of money, with the training, equipment and travelling and sailing fees.
“I am having to look at raising funds to help me get to America so I can take part in the race.
“People think when you are picked to represent your country in sailing, everything is paid for, it isn’t. We have to fund a lot of the costs ourselves.
“I did have a lot of support in the past and I’m hoping people will get behind me again so that I can represent our country.”
If anyone is able to sponsor Chris or offer any raffle prizes to help him fundraise email firstname.lastname@example.org