SHOE OF CHOICE
THE WHOLE STORY
Tell us about yourself, Chris. What’s your story?
I’m originally from New Jersey. I grew up a beach kid at the Jersey Shore and I’ve always been poking around the sand, docks and marinas. When I was in high school I was in a pretty bad car wreck; I was lucky to survive. I lost my leg below the knee and now I wear a prosthesis to get around. It has definitely affected my outlook on life. Any one of us could go at any time and its up to each of us to make every moment count.
Another formative experience for me was studying Environmental Science at college. Learning about how the world works, how ecosystems and organisms within them interact with the non-living things around us really gave me a different perspective on how humans and other earth-critters ought to live on our pale blue dot. It’s kind of like in the Matrix, when Neo finally sees the matrix for what it is. It’s his understanding of the processes that gives him his superpower. It makes the world so much more beautiful, even if my understanding is still only just breaking the surface.
What activities are you involved in?
At some point I realized that sailing and teaching people were things that I loved and that I happen to be good at. I am super lucky to have found that relatively early in my life. I moved to San Francisco three years ago to be able to make a living doing just that, and I never forget how lucky I am to do what I do.
I am super involved in getting people access to sailing who might not otherwise have a chance. I worked for a while at a community sailing center where we were able to take thousands of inner-city youth sailing and show them their city from a different angle. I volunteer a lot with the Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors (BAADS), focusing mainly on the racing program and getting disabled folks out on small keelboats to compete against able bodied sailors in the Bay Area and other disabled sailors nationally and internationally. Again, I’ve been super lucky to combine my passions here and I have gotten to travel extensively around the USA racing.
What are some of your other pastimes besides sailing?
I spend a lot of time in the ocean, bodysurfing or just swimming around. I also ride my bike a lot, back and forth to work, bike-camping, and late night rides when I’m restless. In past lives I have been crazy into gardening and growing food, home-brewing, and DIY stuff like that.
Where is your favorite place to travel?
America. Admittedly, I haven’t really gotten to do much traveling outside of the US, but I’ve seen a whole bunch of this country. I took a cross country bike trip a few years ago and did 6,500 miles over 5 months from Portland, Oregon to South Florida. I rode with a few different people over the course of it and we saw something like 15 National Parks, so many amazing and generous people, and a ton of diverse territory. The USA really has so many different ecosystems and it’s incredible that it’s all the same country. I specifically recall a really special feeling of quiet in Death Valley. It’s such an extreme place but there is such immense beauty there.
How do you give back to the community and the environment?
Sailors in general are a pretty eco-conscious group. It’s hard to move through so much water all the time and not be upset at the amount of trash I see. One of my favorite things to do is to bring people out sailing who haven’t done it before. There is something about being on the water and seeing the place you live from such a dramatically different angle that permanently and irreversibly changes your perspective. I participate in local beach clean-ups too, and generally just try to minimize the amount of “stuff” that tends to weigh people down, like by not owning a car.
What are your plans for the near future?
I have a list here that I think includes about 150 years of adventures and fun stuff to do, so I’m always working to pare it down and try to cross things off my list one by one. I recently signed on with a boat that will be sailing to the Caribbean and beyond, so I’m super excited to shed some baggage and just sail for a while. Some friends and I are starting a sort of anti-Yacht Club to get more folks involved with sailing and water-culture. My plans tend to change a lot depending on what’s in front of me too.
What advice would you give to someone trying to overcome a hurdle or obstacle?
A journey of a thousand miles still starts with a single step. No matter how big or scary or daunting your problem is, just take it one step at a time. People like to say, “I don’t think I could ever recover from an injury like yours.” but I am a firm believer in the strength of the human spirit. People don’t realize how strong they can be and sometimes it takes a catastrophe to be able to appreciate what they are capable of.
Why do you choose to rock Indos?
With my leg, I tend to latch onto shoes that fit me well, and Indos have made the cut. The mission is great, and plus they’re pretty fly, so it’s a win-win-win.
Any last words?
I would encourage anyone and everyone to check out their local community sailing center. It’s the future of water sports access in this country and it provides cheap and easy access to sailing, and it WILL change your life. The Ocean Beach Yacht Club (in San Francisco) is just getting on our feet, but look for us coming up in the future. Go volunteer with any local veterans or disabled-persons groups that are in your area, not because they need your help--because most of us don’t--but because lots of us have so much to give, teach and share. For anyone in the Bay Area, join BAADS.org for cheap sailing every weekend of the year with an incredible group of people in one of the most beautiful places in the world to sail. And lastly, thanks Indosole!