by Di Pearson
Entries for the 2012 Macquarie Access World Championships, close this Friday, 2 March, so perspective entrants are encouraged to enter now and join a class field that includes an Olympian, Paralympic medallists and world, Australian and state champions aplenty.
To be hosted by Middle Harbour Yacht Club from 7-13 Apri, the Access Worlds are open to competitors of all abilities, making it a rare opportunity for athletes with a disability to compete alongside able-bodied athletes. The Club welcomes spectators to the Access Class 2012 Combined World and International Championships, which will also incorporate the 2012 Australian Access Class Championships.
Competing classes are: the Access 2.3 (an ISAF International Class); the Access 303 and Access Liberty (both ISAF Recognised Classes) and the SKUD 18 (a Paralympic Games class).
Entries of interest include Greg Hyde, a former windsurfing world champ who represented at the 1984 Olympics. A 16ft skiff champion and winning crew of the 1993 Sydney Hobart before a usually fatal form of encephalitis struck him 14 years ago. Hyde had a stroke in 2008, resulting in partial paralysis, short-term memory loss, and speech difficulties.
The Clontarf, NSW sailor went on to win a gold medal at the 2009 Masters Worlds Games in the Access 303 (for 45+ years) in which another competitor for these 2012 Worlds, Barry Coates, won the silver medal in the 65+ years category.
IFDS Technical Delegate, David Staley, says: 'I’d put Greg Hyde among the frontrunners. He’s an extremely talented sailor and has lost none of his competitiveness.'
Staley, who has raced against Hyde, warns other competitors in the Access single-handed division: 'He’s very confident, knows the Harbour backwards and has lost none of his skill – believe me!'
Queensland brothers Duncan and Angus MacGregor will compete against each other in the Access 2.3 single-person. Duncan, 22, is a multiple world and state champion, while 16 year-old Angus became Australian Sailor of the Year with a Disability after winning the 2010 World Championship in Great Britain. He has also won Australian and state titles.
Krista Bailey won the 2009 Yachting Victoria Disabled Sailor of the Year Award for her feats in Access classes, while Tasmanian, Craig ‘Esky’ Escott, is a successful offshore yachtsman and small boat sailor. Stephen Churm (NSW) returned from a fourth place at the 2012 IFDS Worlds in the Sonar class in January and hopes to represent Australia at the 2012 Paralympics.
Michael Leydon (ACT), a past Access 303 world champion and also a coach, will be on the start line alongside the likes of fellow Canberra sailor, Peter Thompson, the Australian representative at the 2004 Paralympics in the 2.4mR class.
Internationally, entries include Koji Harada, who heads a strong Japanese contingent, Lindsay Burns (GBR), Michelle Germaine is from Lyon in France, Edward LaRoy (USA), Lindsay McGregor (NZL), Wima Van den Broek (NED) and Al Mustakim Matrin/Nurul/Amlilin Balawi (MAS) and Herb Meyer (USA), who has the distinction of having an annual regatta named after him in San Francisco.
Barry Coates surfing at the Access Nationals -
Julie Hodder, Middle Harbour Yacht Club Commodore and Chairperson of the 2012 Access Worlds, said: 'We are very happy with the standard of entrants so far and expect more by the end of the week when entries close.'
Among those who have indicated they will enter are Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch, who are expected to represent Australia at the 2012 Paralympic Games. They can look forward to competition from Malaysian, Singapore and New Zealand crews who plan to use the Macquarie Access World Championship for Paralympic preparation.
Other entries of interest yet to enter in the SKUD are Australians Ame Barnbrook and Lindsay Mason. This time they will compete against each other, hope to gain some benefit from sailing separately after their 2012 Paralympic ambitions did not come to fruition.
'Apart from seeing some seriously good competition, it will also be a fun-packed event,' added Commodore Hodder, who says competitors can take advantage of a planned training session before racing gets underway.
The 2012 Access World Championships are sponsored by Macquarie Group Foundation and the NSW Government, supported by Estate Master, the Freemasons and Roads and Maritime Services.
Getting ready to race - Access Worlds
To follow the Macquarie 2012 Access Worlds, go to the official website
The Macquarie Group Foundation is one of Australia’s leading philanthropic foundations and, together with Macquarie staff, has donated more than $A145 million to thousands of community organisations worldwide. It is the philanthropic arm of Macquarie Group Limited, which is a global provider of banking, financial, advisory, investment and fund management services.