Racing in the London 2012 Paralympic Games gets underway tomorrow (Saturday) but, today the sailors took to the water for their practice race. Here is what our sailors thought of finally getting the chance to race at Weymouth and Portland in its guise as the official London 2012 Paralympic venue.
Niki Birrell sitting on GBR SKUD18 - Paralympics 2012
Niki Birrell (SKUD crew): 'It was just nice to get out on the water and go sailing, all the build-up has been going on for weeks and week and years and years so it was just nice to go sailing and race against everyone. Today obviously doesn’t count for anything but it was nice to check the boat was working, check that we were going quite quick, everything looks fine, but obviously it doesn’t count so there’s no point getting too excited. Now we’re really, really excited about going racing tomorrow, and trying to deliver a gold medal for the team.'
Alexandra Rickham (SKUD helm): 'We’re just trying to stick to our routines and do what we normally do and trying to pretend that it’s not any bigger than a normal regatta. But at the same time it was great to get out on the water, be able to line up against all of our competitors, have a bit of a look at our speed and various bits and pieces and just made sure things have been ticking over okay. We’re just excited to get out there out tomorrow and see what four years of work brings
Helena Lucas (2.4mR): 'It was tricky. We had fighting breezes, a sea breeze had come in fighting the gradient so there was a bit of a postponement and then we got on with it. I think I would have been about fourth if I’d finished the race, I pulled out just before the finish, I am superstitious like that! Actually I’m better now, I’m a lot, lot better but I just thought it’s the Paralympic Games, and you don’t want to take the risk do you? All in all it was pretty good as it was pretty tricky conditions. It looks like we should have pretty good conditions tomorrow in a direction that we’re quite used to so I’m really looking forward to just going out and getting on with it now. I’m definitely excited.
John Robertson (Sonar helm): We’re feeling really good, really excited, we had the practice race this afternoon and that went pretty well. It was a bit of dodgems on the racecourse with everyone just trying different things and it was a good start up. Then tomorrow’s the real thing and we’re really looking forward to that. We’re a really strong unit, we’re really close, we work well together and we’re just looking forward to proving ourselves out on the water for the next six days. We will do our best every single day and go through the processes and smash it really!
Where we are in the venue in the Harbour, it’s a pretty small, close race course, so everyone’s going to get to the top mark generally in the same times so the competition’s going to be all 14 boats really so it’s just making sure we get the best start we can and doing the business round the racecourse.
We will spend our evening having a bit of a debrief from this afternoon’s race, then have a bite of dinner from Craig the chef, which will be gorgeous as always, then we have the Pub Quiz without the beer! I need to see if I can get on a winning team obviously.
UK Olympic website