by Di Pearson
Macquarie Group Access World Championships 2012, hosted by Middle Harbour Yacht Club, kicks off on Monday 9th April. 95 boats and 126 sailors will take over a part of Sydney Harbour, and Telstra will be there to support the event.
Greg Hyde with David Staley after winning an Access Liberty event - Access World Championships 2012
Telstra is delighted to be involved in supporting such an event and is fulfilling the event’s communication needs by supplying mobile phones and Wi-Fi communication hubs across its Next G® mobile network to support the event’s complex logistics needs both on and off the water.
Telstra's Area General Manager for Sydney, Andrew Bogg, said 'Telstra has a long and proud history of supporting athletes of all abilities, including with disability. This is demonstrated by our long-term support of the Australian Paralympics Committee and by way of equipment grants in support of athletes with disability across a range of sports.
'Our support for this major international Championship, in which nine nations will be represented, is in addition to those programs. I am pleased to say that our Next G® mobile network is ensuring the digital inclusion of the athletes with disability.'
One such sailor to benefit from Telstra’s participation is Greg Hyde. The Clontarf resident is a former windsurfing world champion who represented Australia at the 1984 Olympics. He was also a 16ft skiff champion and crew of the 1993 Sydney Hobart overall winner, Cuckoos Nest, before a usually fatal form of encephalitis struck him 14 years ago.
Not to be deterred, when he was able, Hyde took up sailing again, and went on to win a gold medal at the 2009 Masters Worlds Games in the Access 303 (for 45+ years), and is highly rated to take the same class out at the Macquarie Access Worlds
'I am absolutely looking forward to the Worlds,' Hyde said as he headed off to get some training on Sydney Harbour this morning.
Hyde, a well-known local sailing identity, who will sail in the Access Liberty single-person class, says those Aussies who know the Harbour will have the edge. 'Absolutely we’ll have the upper hand, knowing the wind and tactics. The Harbour can be shifty at this time of the year; catch one good shift or a wave and you can leave the rest of the fleet behind,' he said.
Asked who he believes will be his stiffest opposition, Hyde named two fellow Australians: 'Barry Coates (was runner-up to Hyde at the 2009 Masters Worlds) for sure; and Peter Thompson (Paralympics representative in 2000 and 2004).'
Competing at his first Access Liberty regatta, Hyde beat experienced Liberty sailors Coates (Qld) and David Staley (Vic), scoring six straight wins leaving his compatriots to fight it out for the minor placings. Both are looking forward to Hyde’s ongoing involvement in the class.
'Although Greg is very familiar with the conditions on Middle Harbour, he just sailed faster and better than the rest of us,' Coates confessed.
'Having someone of Greg’s calibre sailing in the Liberty fleet at the Worlds will help lift the standard of competition to a new level,' he added.
Adding to its support, Telstra has also put out a call out for volunteers from among their staff. What many people won’t realise are the logistics of an event of this nature and magnitude and the help required to help run it.
At least 40 wheelchairs will have to be dealt with, including getting athletes in and out of them and storing while racing takes place. Help is also required getting some sailors in and out of transport, into boats each day, and back to dry land and the Club afterwards.
The 2012 Macquarie Access World Championships are a rare opportunity for disabled sailors to pit their skills against their able bodied counterparts at an international level. Don’t be surprised to find a few able-bodied sailors left behind on the race track; there are many extremely talented disabled sailors in the fleet.
The 2012 Access World Championships are sponsored by Macquarie Group Foundation and the NSW Government. Support is also being given by Telstra, Sailability and Yachting NSW, joining Estate Master, the Freemasons and Roads and Maritime Services.
Macquarie Access Worlds website