2012 Paralympics- Breeze fails to deliver on Portland Harbour

New Zealand to windward of Malaysia on Day 4 of the 2012 Paralympics at Portland
David Staley - IFDS ©

The London 2012 Paralympic Sailing competition ended quietly as a lack of wind prevented any racing from getting underway. After sailors were kept on shore in a long postponement, it was eventually decided that results as of the end of Race 10 would remain final.

Tim Dempsey and Jan Apel sailing NZ’s first ever SKUD 18 entry at the Paralympics finished 10th overall, and Paul Francis in finished 13th in the 2.4mR.

'This event was very competitive, it’s the closest I’ve seen the fleet, ever' said Tim Dempsey, skipper of the SKUD 18 campaign. 'It was probably the lightest regatta we’ve ever done too, the whole regatta wind speed would have been averaging 10kn. It wasn’t really what we were expecting for Weymouth.'

The outcomes of this event were much more significant than just final results; the three sailors were ground breakers in the modern New Zealand sailing community with regards to inclusion of sailors with a disability.

Helena Lucas, 2.4mR - Paralympics London 2012
David Staley - IFDS ©
Not only were they the first sailors to represent NZ at this level in twelve years, but Jan was the first female, and together they represented a paradigm shift in the NZL Sailing Team in terms of Paralympic inclusion high performance programmes.

'It’s been a fantastic opportunity and well worth it' said 2.4mR skipper Paul Francis. 'We learned some very significant lessons about what it requires to be successful at this level.'

Sailing participation levels for people with a disability are skyrocketing in New Zealand and with now over twelve yacht clubs offering accessible programmes. One of the several focus areas in this community will be on growing size and competition standards in national fleets of sailors with a disability.

'I suffered at this event due to a lack of competitive experience' Paul continued. 'At the moment it’s difficult in NZ for the sailors with a disability because there’s nobody to really race against. I’m disappointed in the way the event has gone from a result point of view.'

Day 5 of the 2012 Paralympics at Portland - 24mR with Weymouth bay as the backdrop
David Staley - IFDS ©
Tim Dempsey expressed a similar opinion with regards to their performance at this event, but seemed confident that things will be different for NZ’s future Paralympic sailors.

'One of the challenges we had was sailing with a fleet of that size. At regattas we only get one or maybe two of that size each year so our fleet management wasn’t as good as it could have been' said Tim. 'Often to get good competition at home you need to be sailing against able bods, and we want that path to be easier for others after us'.

All three sailors plan to remain involved in the sport, although at this point they haven’t yet put together their plans as all thoughts have been consumed on getting to the finish of this event. Tim Dempsey has plans to spend a much deserved holiday with his wife and two young sons while sailing partner Jan Apel will continue with her previous Paralympic sport of shooting, and will be resurrecting Parafed Auckland’s archery club.

There will be a welcome home for over 40 members of the Paralympic team on Wednesday 12th September at 10:50am. Paul Francis and Jan Apel will be on this flight- so show your support for our sailors and see you then!

London 2012 Final Paralympic Results

10th – Tim Dempsey and Jan Apel (SKUD 18)

13th - Paul Francis (2.4mR)

Medal winners in the SKUD 18 fleet - 2012 Paralympics
David Staley - IFDS ©

Helen Lucas (GBR), Gold medalist 24mR event
David Staley - IFDS ©

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