by Craig Heydon
IFDS World Championship 2011 is being held from 3rd to 8th July at the London 2012 Paralympic Games venue. Australia’s leading Paralympic sailors are in Weymouth, England preparing for the event.
Skud 18 medalists at the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta
Australia will be represented by six crews competing in three classes, with the 92 crews sailing in Weymouth battling to qualify their respective countries for the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
The Australian Sailing Team will have three representatives in the highly competitive Skud 18 class, and after qualifying the country for London 2012 at the 2010 IFDS World Championship, the crews will all be firmly focused on winning the World Championship.
Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch will be keen to continue their great start to their partnership, after winning the only two ISAF Sailing World Cup rounds they have competed in.
The pair won Gold in Miami in January, just a month after they started sailing together, and then backed it up with Gold in Weymouth last month.
'Our preparation has been very thorough,' said skipper Fitzgibbon. 'After racing at the Sail for Gold Regatta we had an intense training block here and over the next week have a great opportunity to compete against the crews who are going to be at the Games, and with the best fleet in four years it’s an exciting time for the class.'
Fitzgibbon and Tesch won’t have it all their own way in Weymouth with fellow Australians Jamie Dunross and Rachael Cox, and Ame Barnbrook and Lindsay Mason hot on their heels.
West Australians Jamie Dunross and Rachael Cox joined Fitzgibbon and Tesch on the podium at the same venue last month, winning the Bronze medal in their first regatta together.
'We’ve had a great preparation training with the other Skud 18 teams which has been excellent,' said Cox. 'After Sail for Gold we had a little bit of time off, then some boat work and into an intense training block heading into the event.
'We’d like to get a top three performance here but are hoping to improve on our third at Sail for Gold and come away with at least a Silver,' she said.
Ame Barnbrook and Lindsay Mason are continuing to develop well as a team and are certain to be right at the front of the fleet throughout the regatta.
'We’ve been doing a lot of training here over the last few weeks so hopefully we’ll get a good result,' said Barnbrook. 'We finished fifth at Sail for Gold so we’re hoping to improve on that and hopefully get ourselves onto the podium.'
Tasmanian sailor Matt Bugg will be competing at his second IFDS World Championship in the 2.4mR class after finishing 16th in Holland in 2010.
Bugg heads into the regatta after a busy couple of months in Europe, competing in the last three rounds of the ISAF Sailing World Cup.
Bugg finished just off the podium in fourth at round five in Holland, before ending the Weymouth round in 12th and the final round in Germany in fourth.
'After three lead up regattas we’re as ready as we’re ever going to be so I’m ready to race and do really well,' said Bugg. 'First and foremost I’m here to qualify the country for the Games and then secondly I want to finish the week on the podium.'
Australia will have two crews competing in the Sonar class with Colin Harrison, Russell Boaden and Rod Angwin making up one crew while Stephen Churm, Jonathan Harris and Jason Elwes will compete in the other entry.
'We’ve had a very lengthy pre-event training program here in Weymouth,' said Harrison who won a Silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games. 'We’ve experienced a variety of weather and wind conditions which has enabled us to prepare well for the Worlds.
'The venue is certainly the most challenging we’ve ever sailed at and we’re looking forward to mixing it up with the other competitors,' he said. 'I’d anticipate that we’d be in the top 10 boats, our boat speed and crew work has really come a long way.'
Australian Sailing Team website
IFDS World Championship website