French Sonars out to make it three in a row at Para World Sailing Championships
by Daniel Smith - ISAF
More than 140 sailors from 31 nations will sail across the three Paralympic sailing events at the 2015 Para World Sailing Championships set to be held in Williamstown, Melbourne, Australia from 27 November through to 3 December.
As the final qualification regatta for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Sailing Competition the stakes could not be higher across the 2.4mR, SKUD18 and Sonar fleets sailing in Melbourne. If that was not enough to increase the intensity, the quest for World Championship glory and bragging rights heading into the Paralympic year ensures the pressure cooker is turned up another notch.
Sonar teams from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece and Norway will enter the 2015 Para World Sailing Championships without the stress of having to qualify for Rio 2016. However, within the 18-boat fleet, their tension lies in the battle for the Sonar Para World Sailing title.
Each team, minus Greece, will be on the Melbourne startline and each team has the capabilities and experience to put together a good series of races to claim the title.
France’s Bruno Jourdren, Eric Flageul and Nicolas Vimont-Vicary come into the event with the favourites tag well and truly pinned on them after they won the 2013 and 2014 world championship titles.
Within French culture there is a saying, “Jamais Deux, Sans Trois”, which directly translates to ‘never two without three’. If that is the case then expect the French trio to be victorious in Melbourne but they won’t be resting on their laurels as Vimont-Vicary explained, “We are the world champions so of course we want to keep our title, but even though we are world champions and respected by the others, of course they want to fight us.
“For the moment we are focused on the World Championships but we know in the months ahead that Rio is the most important competition, although we have to be in the moment.”
Canada’s Paul Tingley, Logan Campbell and Scott Lutes finished second to the French team at the 2014 Worlds and will be strong contenders in 2015. Helm Tingley is one of the most successful Paralympic sailors competing in any Melbourne fleet. He won bronze at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games in the Sonar before taking the Sonar IFDS Disabled Sailing World Championship title a year later. He finished seventh in the Sonar at Athens 2004 before progressing into the 2.4mR.
Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games gold followed and two years later, racing against able-bodied sailors, won the Open 2.4mR World Championship. He continued in the 2.4mR through to London 2012 where he finished fifth before moving back into the Sonar.
With Campbell and Lutes, Tingley’s progression has been gradual. Bronze at the 2013 and 2015 Sailing World Cup Miami regattas and a second at the world’s last year show their steadiness but in a field of Paralympic hopefuls, they have an opportunity to lay down an indicator with less than one year until Rio 2016.
Australia’s Colin Harrison, Jonathan Harris and Russell Boaden finished third at the 2014 Worlds. Racing on their home waters, they have the ideal opportunity to make their mark and confidence could not be higher for the Australians. They took gold at the 2015 Delta Lloyd Regatta in Medemblik, The Netherlands in a fleet that included the French world champions before following it up with further victory at Sailing World Cup Weymouth and Portland.
Further contention for the top spots will come from London 2012 silver medallists Jens Kroker, Siegmund Mainka and Robert Prem (GER), bronze medallists Aleksander Wang-Hansen, Marie Solberg and Per Kristiansen (NOR) as well as the experienced British team of John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas (GBR).
Six Rio 2016 Paralympic Games places are available at the 2015 Para World Sailing Championships with nine teams vying for one of those spots.
Teams from Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Spain, USA and the US Virgin Islands will be on the start line aiming to reach Rio.
Racing in the Sonar is scheduled to commence at 13:00 on Saturday 28 November.