29 nations set for Para World Sailing Championships
Racing out of the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria in Williamstown, a small suburb of Melbourne, competitors will be gunning for the final Rio 2016 Paralympic Sailing Competition with the stakes as high as they could possibly be.
The 2.4mR will be the biggest fleet in Melbourne with 45 entries whilst the Two-Person Keelboat, the SKUD18, and the Three Person Keelboat, the Sonar, have 19 entries each. In total, 140 sailors and 70 coaches will be in Melbourne with eyes focused on taking gold and a place on the Rio 2016 startline.
Organising Committee chair Michael McLean said, “By my reckoning we have one more country to enter and that will give us 30 countries, a fabulous result and commitment from all countries and sailors and coaches to such a prestigious event in the sailing calendar. It is after all the second and final country qualifier for the Rio Paralympics.”
In total, 35 athletes will book their spot at Rio 2016 in Melbourne. Seven spots in the 2.4mR, five in the SKUD18 and six in the Sonar will be up for grabs. Click here for the qualification system - http://www.sailing.org/tools/documents/2016ParalympicsSailingQualificationSystem-%5B16640%5D.pdf
“We don’t run these events very often,” McLean continued, “so I would encourage all the members of the RYVC, the local population, sailing community and the world of Paralympic sport to get excited by this event, I certainly am.
“You would really struggle to find a more professional group of sailors and coaches dedicated to representing their countries at the highest level. This will be some of the best sailing you are ever able to witness.”
If those following the event want to see the best racing, then the best sailors will need to be on the start line and when casting an eye over the start list, it’s a who’s who of Paralympic sailing with star studded fleets.
London 2012 Olympic gold medallists Helena Lucas (GBR) in the 2.4mR and Dan Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch (AUS) in the SKUD18 will be amongst the stellar cast on show in Melbourne.
Other London 2012 medallists making the trip include 2.4mR silver medallist Heiko Kroger (GER) and SKUD18 bronze medallists Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell (GBR). Silver and bronze medallists in the Sonar, Jens Kroker, Siegmund Mainka and Robert Prem (GER) and Aleksander Wang-Hansen, Marie Solberg and Per Eugen Kristiansen (NOR) will also be on the start line.
Away from the elite competitors at the front of the fleet the fight will be on for the remaining Rio 2016 spots after the 2014 Championship saw the first 50% of spots snapped up.
At the end of August 2015, ten sailors from six nations attended the first Paralympic Development Program (PDP) clinic in Weymouth and Portland, Great Britain. Thanks to the PDP sailors from Czech Republic, Estonia, Hong Kong and Portugal are expected to compete in Melbourne, aiming for one of the lucrative Rio 2016 spots.
World Sailing TV were on-hand to capture the Paralympic Development Program and you can view it here - https://youtu.be/SNxbqlTNN1w
Ahead of the Melbourne Para Worlds, a second PDP will be taking place where sailors will benefit from on-water expertise, sailing in the Paralympic one-person keelboat, the 2.4mR, as well as daily on-shore briefings.
Registration, measurement and classification will run for three days in Melbourne from 24 November. The Opening Ceremony will take place on 27 November with six days of racing commencing on Saturday 28 November. A single race on Thursday 3 December will bring the regatta to a close followed by the prize giving.