If you watched the finish of Race 14 at the 2007 U.S. Paralympic Team Trials, you may not have understood the scene unless you had done the math. When SKUD-18 sailors Maureen McKinnon-Tucker and skipper Nick Scandone crossed the finish line to capture their 11th first-place finish at the Trials, a wave of emotion rolled over the course. There was still another day of racing left, but this duo had sailed so well that they were mathematically untouchable before the final day of racing.
The Trials win, which earned Scandone and McKinnon-Tucker their first berth to the Paralympic Games, was a personal triumph for McKinnon-Tucker. The first-place finish also meant that she would become the first woman to represent the U.S. in sailing at the Paralympic Games. The remarkable run for McKinnon-Tucker and Scandone continued in Beijing, as they won gold in the 2-person keelboat (SKUD-18). The victory was a tribute to McKinnon-Tucker's dedication and hard work after becoming paralyzed 10 years ago.
McKinnon-Tucker learned to sail when she was 20, when she met her husband, Dan. After her accident, McKinnon-Tucker tried racing again but the J/24s she once sailed were too challenging and 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 triple-handed Sonar as crew. The Sonar was a good fit, and McKinnon-Tucker, Doerr, and crew Tim Angle campaigned for the 2004 Paralympics. But after a third-place finish at Trials, McKinnon-Tucker moved on to the SKUD-a double-handed, performance dinghy making its Paralympic debut at the 2008 Games. She connected with Scandone to earn a spot on the 2008 team.
- 2008: Gold medal, 2-person keelboat (SKUD-18) - Paralympic Games, Beijing, China
- 2008: First place - U.S. Sailing's Rolex Miami OCR, Miami, Fla.
- 2007: First place - U.S. Paralympic Team Trials, Newport, R.I.
- 2007: Second place - IFDS Disabled Sailing World Championships, Rochester, N.Y.
- 2006: First place - U.S. Pre-Trials, Newport, R.I.
- 2003: Second place - UK Nationals Two Sail