USA to Finalize SKUD18 Team for Paralympic Games

Published on May 23rd, 2016

The 2016 Para World Sailing Championships (May 24-28), which will take place as part of the Delta Lloyd Regatta, will begin on Tuesday in Medemblik, the Netherlands. The event will be the final major gathering of Rio 2016 sailing medal hopefuls prior to the Paralympic Games in September, and will also serve as the last athlete selection event for the U.S. Paralympic Sailing Team.

While Team USA athletes have already been selected in the three-person Sonar and one-person 2.4mR Paralympic sailing classes, the 2016 Para Worlds is the second of two regattas used to finalize athletes in the two-person SKUD-18 class. Full details.

The first regatta in the Rio 2016 selection series for the SKUD-18 was the 2015 Para Worlds in Melbourne, Australia (November 26 – December 3, 2015). Ryan Porteous (San Diego, Calif.) and Beijing 2008 SKUD-18 gold medalist Maureen McKinnon (Marblehead, Mass.) were the top American finishers in Melbourne (8th overall), and as a result will go into Medemblik with a slight lead in the series over Sarah Everhart-Skeels (Tiverton, R.I.) and Cindy Walker (Middletown, R.I.), who sit two points behind.

For McKinnon, a Paralympic Champion and the most experienced of the four athletes vying for SKUD-18 selection, this is a familiar stage. “I think that the selection process definitely gets easier every time, from a mental standpoint,” said McKinnon. “You really do have to treat this event like any other regatta. We have been training hard for months in Clearwater, Florida and over here in Europe. We feel ready.”

McKinnon also noted that she and her teammate Porteous, a first-time Team USA hopeful, were proud of the hours they had put in on the water leading up to the 2016 Worlds. “Paralympic sailors can’t train full-time, since we all have jobs and ‘real lives’, and in our team’s case, live on different coasts,” said McKinnon. “We are always trying to make the best of every hour we can get. It was also amazing having a place like Clearwater Community Sailing Center (a US Sailing Team Sperry National Training Center) equipped with SKUD-18’s and a generous staff. We couldn’t have done this campaign without them.”

To win Rio selection, Everhart-Skeels and Walker will have to beat Porteous and McKinnon by two places overall in Medemblik. “I would have to say that we’re very excited for this regatta to start, and we aren’t nervous at all,” said Walker. “Receiving messages from all of our friends and family has given us a huge boost. It’s also an amazing and supportive atmosphere here among our competitors, since everyone knows that this is the U.S. selection event. One of the other teams even gave us some good-luck flowers earlier. It’s been awesome.”

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Source: US Sailing Team Sperry

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