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John Robertson relishes 2.4 Metre Open Worlds test

by Karenza Morton on 16 Mar 2013
John Robertson (back) will swap the Sonar for sailing solo at the 2013 International 2.4mR World Championships in Poole in September © Richard Langdon/Skandia Team GBR
Double Sonar World Champion helm and 3-time Paralympian, John Robertson, will be in the unique position of flying solo when he competes at the 2013 International 2.4 Metre Open World Championships at The Poole Yacht Club, Dorset this September (6 - 14 September).

The Skandia Team GBR Sonar helm is more commonly found at the back of the three-person Paralympic keelboat with crewmates, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas.

The Sonar team’s campaign for Rio 2016 gets underway in earnest this year, with the trio planning to compete at as many of the five new EUROSAF Champions Sailing Cup events as possible plus the 2013 IFDS Disabled Sailing World Championships in Ireland in August.

But 41-year-old Robertson, who was paralysed from the chest down as a result of a motorbike accident in 1994, admits the chance to take part in another World Championship event on familiar waters in Dorset was too good to turn down.

He said: 'Although I still live in Sunderland, I’m based much of the time at Weymouth and Portland. With this event being just down the road from Weymouth it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get some more quality racing time under my belt this year.

'I’ve done a little bit of 2.4mR sailing before. With their type of disabilities it’s maybe a bit easier for Hannah and Steve to sail and race any type of boat really, but for me it is not so easy. The 2.4mR is a boat I can sail and that you are guaranteed to get some good racing in. It will feel a bit strange sailing on my own I’m sure but I’m looking forward to the event.'

Robertson made history when he became the first skipper in the history of disabled Sonar sailing to helm his crew to back-to-back IFDS World titles in 2005 and 2006. He, Stodel and Thomas also have two World Championship silver and two bronze medals to their credit.

After finishing sixth at both Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, the trio’s hopes for London 2012 silverware remain in the balance when, after a controversial points’ penalty denied them a 2012 bronze medal, their case was referred to the Court of Arbitration in Sport (CASS).

Robertson joins fellow British Sailing Team teammates, Helena Lucas and Megan Pascoe, on the 2.4mR Worlds entry list.

The International 2.4mR World Championships are one of the most unique sailing events on the international racing calendar, with Paralympic and both able-bodied and disabled Worlds medallists, male and female, competing in the same boats on a level playing field.

For more information about, or to enter the 2013 International 2.4 Metre Open World Championships, visit the event website.
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