Biography: The Trials win, which earned skipper Nick Scandone and crew McKinnon-Tucker their first berth to the Paralympic Games, was a personal triumph for both racers who had overcome great obstacles. In the '90s, McKinnon-Tucker fell 13 feet off a seawall and became paralyzed. In 2002, Scandone was diagnosed with ALS.
McKinnon-Tucker learned to sail when she was 20, when she met Dan Tucker, who later became her husband. Tucker raced J/24 sailboats, and she started to compete. After her accident, McKinnon-Tucker tried racing again. But the J/24s were too challenging; the Freedom 20s designed for individuals with disabilities were too tame.
She gave up sailing for a while, until a chance meeting with Paralympic skipper Rick Doerr, who invited her aboard his triplehanded Sonar as crew. McKinnon-Tucker, Doerr, and crew Tim Angle campaigned for the 2004 Paralympics. After a third place at the Trials, McKinnon-Tucker moved on to the SKUD-18, a doublehanded, performance dinghy making its Paralympic debut at the '08 Games. She connected with Scandone, and their pairing had a certain electricity: they blazed to top finishes in a series of events before earning a spot on the Paralympic team.