At the London 2012 Paralympic Sailing Competition, two awesome race victories propelled Helena Lucas into gold medal position in the 2.4 Metre one-person keelboat class at the halfway point. Redhill-born Lucas holds a nine-point advantage over nearest rival Heiko Kroger (GER) as her back-to-back race victories, coupled with the fact that the sailors have now completed five races and can eliminate their worst score of the series, saw her manoeuvre into pole position at the head of the fleet with five races to come.
Helena Lucas, 2.4mR
Triple World Championship medallist Lucas, who has lived in Portland in preparation for this event, made the most of the light breezes in the harbour today.
But she insists she had a valuable lesson in taking nothing for granted reinforced at this summer’s Olympics when the Star team of Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson saw a gold medal – and a seven-point lead – disappear in a crushing final race flash.
Lucas said: 'I couldn’t have asked for more than that today, I’m just really, really pleased. Getting the bullet in the first race was pretty cool and the second race it was a case of keeping it chilled and getting a good start.
'But I’m absolutely not thinking about where that has left me. I’ve managed to get a nine point lead having done six races so with five races to go it would be quite easy to lose that nine point lead. I’m certainly not getting carried away.
'You look at what happened to Perce and Bart at the Olympics, when they led the whole regatta. Anything can happen. You can easily have a bad day or something goes wrong. It is great to have a bit of a cushion at the moment but I’m fully aware that that can get eroded very quickly.'
Lucas didn’t have the best start in the first race of the day, heading towards the first mark in 12th, but she nailed the approach to round that mark in first and she rapidly sprinted into a 23 second lead and continued to extend that throughout the rest of the race to win by over half a minute.
Her patience came to the fore in the second race as she rounded mark one in fifth before gradually picking her way through the fleet to head the pack by mark three, again keeping her composure to the finish line to make it 100 per cent for the day.
Lucas added: 'What I can take from today is great confidence that I’m fast in these conditions. If I don’t go round the mark in the top three, as long as I’m in the top five I know I’m quick enough to pick people off. We will see what happens come Thursday but I’ll be keeping everything in perspective and just keep doing what I’m doing.'
The first Paralympic sailing event took place as demonstration sport at Atlanta 1996 in the Sonar boat (plus reserve). The British crew of Andy Cassell, Kevin Curtis, Tony Downs and Ian Harrison won gold. But a Paralympic medal has eluded Britain since sailing joined the full Paralympic Games programme at Sydney 2000.
The London 2012 Paralympic Sailing Regatta runs from Saturday 1st September to Thursday 6th September.
Two races per day are scheduled for each class from first to 5th September, with one race for each class on the final day (6th September). Racing is scheduled to start at 11am daily.
RYA London 2012 website