At the London 2012 Paralympic Sailing Competition, Britain’s Helena Lucas will be sailing for 2.4mR class gold tomorrow after guaranteeing at least a silver medal on day five at Weymouth and Portland. Redhill-raised Lucas – the only woman in the one-person keelboat fleet – currently sits in first overall with a nine-point cushion over Heiko Kroger (GER) in second with one race to come tomorrow. She can’t do any worse than silver after eking out an unassailable points advantage over Thierry Schmitter (NED) in bronze medal position.
Helena Lucas, 2.4mR sailing on day 5 of the 2012 Paralympic Sailing Competition
The Portland-based sailor picked up scores of eighth and fifth in stronger breezes between 12-15 knots in Portland Harbour today, which saw her overnight lead eroded by two points by her German rival. Despite her commanding position, Lucas is taking nothing for granted ahead of the biggest race of her life.
She said: 'Having led for most of the week I’ve obviously got my eye firmly set on the gold medal but I’m not too excited yet as I still know there is a job to do. I’ve got a nice points’ cushion so I will go out there, enjoy the race and keep my eye on Heiko.
'I don’t think the boys in the fleet were too happy at the beginning of the week with a girl leading! But I think they have got used to the fact I’m up there and sailing really well. I think they are resigned to the fact they have got a bit of a job on their hands to beat me tomorrow.
'It was a hard today. I was actually really quick on the water but in the first race it was really shifty and I struggled a little bit to get a handle on the shifts. Maybe I got a little bit caught out by following where Heiko was going and neither of us did a good job at the first beat.
'I then learnt the lessons from that race and realised I’ve just got to sail my own race and forget about the competition and get on with it. I had a really solid second race but it was really tight racing, one minute I would be leading and then the next minute it wouldn’t be looking so good!'
Britain hasn’t won a full Paralympic sailing medal since the sport joined the full Paralympic Games programme at Sydney 2000. But with the British SKUD two-person keelboat team of Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell also guaranteed at least a bronze medal and the three-person Sonar team also in a strong position to claim silverware, Lucas hopes it ends up being a very happy Games for ParalympicsGB.
She added: 'It would be absolutely fantastic if we could medal in all three classes, amazing considering where we were in Beijing four years ago. It’s just all the hard work and support we have had behind us that is why we are at where we are today. The help from all the Olympic guys as well has been fantastic and I think these reasons are why we are in a position to deliver three medals.
'Tonight we will just have to watch another DVD. It might have to be ‘Wimbledon’ again, as that’s when I got my two firsts this week, but it all depends if the rest of the team can survive another viewing of that film! It will definitely be a chilled out evening with an early night and go out tomorrow and look forward to a fantastic race.'
Sailing first took place as demonstration sport at Atlanta 1996 in the Sonar. The British crew of Andy Cassell, Kevin Curtis and Tony Downs won gold.
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 1st 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