by David Staley
The 2013 Australian Access Class Championships get underway at Canberra Yacht Club today and will be held concurrently with the Asia-Pacific Championships. The combined events have racing scheduled from Saturday through Monday.
Access 303s are sailing in the nation’s capital
Part of the celebration of Canberra’s Centenary, the Championships were officially opened yesterday by Federal Sports Minister Kate Lundy.
Competitors have travelled to Canberra from all over Australia, along with competitors New Zealand and Japan. Single-person racing is being held in the Access 2.3, 303 and Liberty classes. Two-person competition will be in the Access 303 and SKUD 18.
Whilst conducted as an open event, the majority of sailors competing in the Access Championships have some form of disability, many using wheelchairs for mobility ashore. But once afloat, their speed and tactics match any able-bodied competitor. 2012 Paralympic Gold Medalists Dan Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch are competing - and inspiring the next generation of developing sailors in the process.
In the practice racing today, light and shifting winds provided a challenge for the sailors – something they expect more of during the three days of championships races to follow.
Race Officer Phil Yeomans is leading a race management team of volunteers from Canberra Yacht Club and a variety of New South Wales clubs.
Access Class website
SKUD 18s practice race ahead of the Australian Championships - 2013 Australian & Asia-Pacific Access Class Championships
Access 303 single person practice racing - 2013 Australian & Asia-Pacific Access Class Championships
Federal Sports Minister Kate Lundy opens the Australian & Asia-Pacific Access Class Championships in Canberra - 2013 Australian & Asia-Pacific Access Class Championships