Quality racing returns to Disabled Sailing World Champs

Published on August 23rd, 2014

Halifax, NS (August 23, 2014) – An early start made all the difference for the High Liner Foods IFDS Worlds, as Saturday’s racing was “a good day of quality racing” according to the Principal Race Officer, Rob Williams of Bedford, N.S., Canada.

The 2.4 mR class were located in the inner harbour near McNab’s Island where they found wind enough for three races today. Matthew Bugg (AUS) moved up to 5th position by winning one of Saturday’s races. Heiko Kroeger (GER) and Damien Seguin (FRA) are now tied at the top of the group after today’s results. Helena Lucas (GBR) is two points back. Two races are scheduled for tomorrow when the championship will be decided.

On the SKUD-18 course, the Australian team who are 2012 London Paralympic gold medalists, Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch, solidified their first place position with a first and two second place showings today. In second place, Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell (GBR) and in third, the Italian team of Marco Gualandris and Marta Zanetti. The Canadian team of John McRoberts and Jackie Gay are holding on to fourth place, which will guarantee Canada a spot in the Rio Paralympics in 2016.

On the Sonar course, the Canadian team of Paul Tingley, Scott Lutes and Logan Campbell fell out of first place. They hold down second place and will have a chance to recover tomorrow before the championship is decided. There is a four point spread between them and the leading team from France of Bruno Jourdren, Nicolas Viamont-Vicary and Eric Flaguel. The Australian Sonar team of Colin Harrison, Jonathan Harris and Russell Boaden moved up into third position as a result of winning a race Saturday.

IFDS vice president and technical director of the regatta, Brian Todd noted the wind was shifty but “the bands of pressure moving across the harbour” were predictable enough to allow racing to continue. “The more racing we get in, the better. It makes for a clearer picture as to who is the real winner in this regatta and who will be able to perform as we move towards the next Paralympics,” said Todd.

Another individual race victory that took place on the SKUD-18 course today has touched many people at the IFDS Worlds 2014 regatta. Australian Peter Beard and Rachel Cox caught the whole fleet by surprise when they sailed up the middle of the course and beat everyone to the finish line in Race 8. It was surprising given their earlier results. But what made it so remarkable is the story behind this team. Peter Beard is suffering from multiple system atrophy, a neurological disorder for which there is no cure. While in hospital in 2013, he decided to set a goal to compete in the IFDS Worlds as a way of creating a reason to keep living and enjoy his life-long passion for sailing. Friends and family in the Brisbane area rallied to raise the funds needed to travel to Halifax so he could reach his goal, despite deteriorating health.

When the other members of the Australian team heard about the victory, they met his boat at the dock with a round of applause as they sailed in and the familiar “Aussie Aussie Aussie” Oi Oi Oi chant. On the dock, the Australian team that is currently in first place in the SKUD competition, Liesl Tesch and Dan Fitzgibbon also presented Peter with an Australian Sailing T-shirt to recognize him as an honorary member of the national team.

Sunday’s racing will decide the world championships. Race officials have moved up the start time again to have first signals at 1000 hrs with two races scheduled for 2.4 mR and Sonars, and one for SKUD-18.

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