by Craig Heydon
Australia’s Paralympic class sailors will begin the long road to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games later today when the 2013 IFDS World Championships begin in Kinsale, Ireland.
Tasmanian Paralympic sailor Matt Bugg wins the start
Four Australian crews will be in action in two classes, including a number of sailors who competed at last year’s London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Matt Bugg will contest his first major international event in the 2.4mR class since finishing seventh at London 2012, with the Tasmanian sailor having spent the last week in Kinsale preparing for racing.
'I’m feeling great ahead of the Worlds, it’s a great place and we’ve had a really good preparation in the venue over the last week,' said Bugg. 'The conditions have been great with lots of wind and big waves, which I love, but the forecast for the Worlds is looking very light. Though coming from winter in Hobart I’m well practiced in light air.
'I just competed at the British 2.4mR Championship and finished a close second which I was happy with,' he said. 'The British Championship was held in Poole which is the venue for next month’s 2.4mR open World Championship so it was good to do some training and racing there to get a good feel for the wind and crazy tides.
'The IFDS World Championship will be my first major international event since the Paralympics, I’ve done a lot of work in the last year and am hoping for a really good result here,' said Bugg.
Bugg will be joined in the 2.4mR fleet by two other Australians, Neil Patterson and Mark Durnan, who are both competing at their first IFDS World Championship.
Patterson and Durnan are both relative newcomers to the 2.4mR class, with Sunday’s practice race the first time that Patterson had raced a 2.4mR, but both sailors have been training extensively back home in Australia and have a background racing in the Access Dinghy class.
Australian 2.4mR coach Richard Scarr said that the class is developing well in Australia.
'2.4mR sailing in Australia is building and since last year’s Paralympics we’ve set about creating a new group of 2.4mR sailors,' said Scarr. 'We’ve been running training camps in the ACT, New South Wales and Tasmania with disabled and able bodied sailors taking part. There’s now a strong base of sailors with a few new ones coming into the class.
'Since London Matt Bugg has been working hard on developments on the boat,' he said. 'Matt’s been working a lot on skill development to take that next step within the class, with his result at the British Championship showing that the things we’ve been doing are working. The next week will be a great indication on how he’s progressing.'
Australia will have a new crew lining up in the Sonar class, with Colin Harrison, Jonathan Harris and Russell Boaden competing for the first time together.
The three are all well known to each other with Harrison and Harris competing together at London 2012, while four years earlier Harrison won bronze with Boaden at Beijing 2008.
'We’re very comfortable with the new team and where we’re at going into our first major regatta together,' said skipper Harrison. 'We’re very happy with our boat preparation both on and off the water.
'Jon and I feel that we’ve got some unfinished business from London 2012 and with Russ’s help we’re expecting to be towards the front of the fleet and the possibility of a podium is not out of reach,' he said. 'While we may be a new combination each of us has a good background of international competition and are working well together.'
Racing begins in Kinsale later today and continues until Friday 30 August.
Full results can be found at www.ifdsworlds2013.com/.