by Craig Heydon
On the final day of the 2012 IFDS World Championships in Florida, Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch have won a Bronze medal.
Daniel Fitzgibbon & Liesl Tesch (on day two of the 2011 IFDS World Championships)
The Australian Paralympic class sailors finished third in the Skud 18 class with the World Championship title not decided until the final leg of the regatta.
The battle at the top of the class was close all week with Fitzgibbon and Tesch missing out on the Silver medal to Americans Jennifer French and Jean-Paul Creignou on a count back, while defending World Champions Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell made it back-to-back titles by just two points.
Fitzgibbon and Tesch went into the final race of the regatta second overall, knowing that they would have to beat the Americans and ensure that the British were a few boats behind them to take the title. The race did not play out as the Australians had hoped. Fitzgibbon and Tesch crossed the line in second place behind the Americans, with the British fourth.
'Racing today was interesting,' said Fitzgibbon. 'We had to beat the Americans and the British in the one race we had and we got ourselves into a position where we were beating them but going down to the last leeward leg we let the Americans overtake us which ended up costing us the World Championships.
'We ended up third overall and moving forward from here we have a lot to work on and concentrate on where we went wrong and come back and try and not make mistakes,' he said.
Fitzgibbon and Tesch also finished with a bronze medal at last year’s IFDS World Championships. The pair now head to Miami for the second round of the IFDS World Championships.
Fellow Australian Skud 18 sailors Ame Barnbrook and Lindsay Mason finished the regatta seventh after an eighth in the Sunday’s final race. 'It wasn’t the best end to a regatta but we came out and had some practice against some tough competition which was the main thing,' said Barnbook. 'Our next regatta is in Sydney at the Access World Championships over Easter so hopefully we can improve there.'
In the Sonar fleet Australians Colin Harrison, Stephen Churm and Jonathan Harris finished their regatta on a high, with a third place finish in the final race moving them to fourth overall. The trio have impressed in their first regatta together and ended the 2012 IFDS World Championships just a point off the podium and only two points behind the Silver medal winning crew.
'In the final day’s race, we finished third which took us up one place to finish the regatta fourth,' said Harrison. 'This is my highest placing in 10 IFDS World Championships and is a credit to the efforts of the crew; Johnathon Harris and Stephen Churm and our coach, Grant Alderson. 'Our team is now confident that we can compete with and beat the best sailors in our fleet,' he said. 'This is a terrific result and shows that we will be in contention for a medal at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.'
2.4mR sailor Matt Bugg saved his best race till last with an impressive third place in the final race, his highest finishing position of the regatta.
The Tasmanian sailor’s third secured his 11th place finish overall with Bugg picking up six top 10 finishes during the week in a very competitive 22 boat fleet. 'I’m absolutely thrilled with today’s racing,' said Bugg. 'Today was the first time that I’ve gotten onto the podium in a World Championship race and I am looking forward to doing it more and more in the future.'
Full results here
Australian Sailing Team website