Bill Donohue

2008 U.S. Paralympic Sailing Team Bio

July 31, 2008


Walter Cooper/ Us Sailing

Class: Sonar
Position: Crew
US Disabled Sailing Team AlphaGraphics: 2006-2008
Member of: Shore Acres YC
Education: Scotch Plains High School, Union College (completed two years)
Birthdate: May 24, 1952
Birthplace: Newark, N.J.
Hometown: Brick, N.J.
Occupation: Yacht broker

Significant sailing achievements: Ranked No. 1 on the US Disabled Sailing Team (2006-2008), U.S. Olympic Committee Paralympians of the Year/Sailing (2007)

Biography: Sailing and the water have long been a focus of Bill Donohue’s life. He started sailing at age 7; by the time he was 8, he was racing a Penguin, a doublehanded dinghy popular with junior sailors on the New Jersey shore where he grew up.


At age 18, Donohue was disabled in a car accident, and his leg was amputated when he was in his 40s. “But I never stopped sailing,” he says. As a disabled person, sailing was the one sport from his youth that Donohue could stay active in-and he gives you a clear sense that his ability to keep sailing was more than winning races: “Sailing,” he says, “was my salvation.”

When Donohue talks about making a transition to the Paralympic arena, his challenge wasn’t adjusting to a new boat. It was switching from the role of skipper to crew. “I try not to be a backseat driver,” he jokes.
Donohue sees his team to be a strong one, with each player bringing an impressive sailing background. But when Donohue gets onboard, what he brings with him are all his years of sailing, in all different kinds of boats. That kind of experience helps both in the moves this crew makes together on the racecourse, and in the mental aspects of how the game is played.

Recent results:
2008 9th US SAILING’s Rolex Miami OCR/Miami
2007 1st IFDS Disabled Sailing World Championship/Rochester, N.Y., 1st C. Thomas Clagett Jr. Memorial Regatta/Newport, R.I., 2nd US SAILING’s Rolex Miami OCR


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