Please select your home edition
Edition
Southern Spars

Rickham and Birrell ready for SKUD European Championships

by RYA on 10 May 2013
Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell competing in the SKUD18 class © Richard Langdon http://www.oceanimages.co.uk
The Paralympic sailing bronze medallists Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell are anticipating kick starting their Rio 2016 campaign in earnest this week when they compete for honours at the SKUD European Championships in Arbon, Switzerland (9-12 May).

Aside from a ‘shakedown’ at the domestic RYA Spring Series weekend event at Weymouth and Portland in March, the four-time World Champions have been away from competitive action in the SKUD since claiming their Paralympic podium finish back in September.

This week, Epsom’s Rickham and Birrell, from Knutsford, will line up with nine other crews at the Lake Constance venue in a bid to start their road to Rio with a European crown.

'It’ll be great to kick the event off and get our heads back into racing again. I’m excited to get started,' the 31-year-old Rickham explained.

'It’s a significant event in that it’s the first time we’ve really seen a proper fleet at the SKUD Europeans. There are a lot of new teams competing here this week, which really shows the SKUD fleet is moving forwards with some new faces in the mix and hopefully that will continue.'

This is the British duo’s first opportunity for international racing this year as there have been no SKUD fleets at the 2013 ISAF Sailing World Cup series events. But the pair have nonetheless been taking opportunities elsewhere to hone their skills.

'Although it’s our first proper event since the Games, it’s not like we’ve just been sitting around watching TV and getting fat!' Birrell, 26, explained.

'Alex has been off doing some 2.4mR sailing in Miami and I’ve been sailing in some able-bodied fleets to keep my hand in and help develop some of the tactical sides of things.'

'Learning to sail a 2.4mR was an experience, that’s for sure!' Rickham admitted of her experience sailing the one-person Paralympic class in which Helena Lucas claimed gold last summer.

'There were a few tantrums and tears, and going out in 15 knots on my first day was a pretty scary baptism of fire! It was pretty useful though in helping me develop my racing skills, increasing my confidence and improving my tactics, even if it’s not the easiest boat to sail if you’re tetraplegic!'

Racing at the SKUD European Championships, part of the Access Class Europeans, takes place over four days, with two races per day. While Birrell is pragmatic about the work ahead in order to achieve Paralympic gold in 2016, the competitor in him remains fired up for Swiss silverware come Sunday.

'We ticked the box to a certain extent with a medal at the Paralympics, but a gold medal in Rio is definitely our motivation. There’s still an awful lot to be done between now and then though – you have to make the cake before you can eat it!

'We’re approaching the event in quite a relaxed way. That said, I never start a sailing event with the aim of doing anything other than winning it so it’ll be good to start racing again and get the competitive juices going!'

For results and regatta information visit Access Class Euro RYA website
Zhik Isotak Ocean 660x82North Sails Fast T Clewring J-class

Related Articles

Road to Rio – One Olympic venue to the next
Sailing World Cup touched down in Weymouth and Portland last week and it was one of the last official organised regattas The Sailing World Cup touched down in Weymouth and Portland last week and it was one of the last official organised regattas before the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. It gave the future Olympians an opportunity to test themselves one last time against their Rio competitors, in a full race setting, before the summer showpiece.
Posted on 15 Jun
Landsail Tyres J-Cup – 66 J Boat yachts made up very competitive fleet
This was the 17th edition of the J-Cup and four one design fleets were racing for their UK National Championships. Of the 34 yachts vying for UK Championship honours, an incredible 23 of them made the podium. The racing right across the fleet was incredibly close, with seconds deciding winners over the three day regatta.
Posted on 12 Jun
World Sailing invites bids for 2017 and 2018 Annual Conference
Annual Conference brings together more than 400 delegates over a seven-day period every first full week of November. World Sailing's Annual Conference brings together more than 400 delegates over a seven-day period every first full week of November. It is the central meeting point where the strategy of sailing is reviewed, discussed and celebrated.
Posted on 7 Jun
World Sailing completes final on-site review of the Rio 2016 Olympic
Briefings were provided over two days on key operational and service areas for the Olympic Games. Briefings were provided over two days on key operational and service areas for the Olympic Games, including venue construction, competition schedules, broadcasting, media operations, accommodation, transportation and ticketing.
Posted on 26 May
The World Championships just keep on coming
Last week was the finish of the Finn Worlds. Torch passed to the Laser Standard currently in Mexico having their Worlds. While the Olympic torch is being passed from person to person on its trip to Rio 2016, the Olympic and Paralympic classes are doing the same as the World Championships torch passes along on its tour around the world to Brazil.
Posted on 18 May
World Sailing teams up with Andrew Simpson Foundation and Bart's Bash
Andrew Simpson Foundation continues to encourage people to get on the water and promote the benefits it brings. The Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation continues to encourage more people to get on the water and promote the benefits it brings people of all abilities. In 2016 Bart's Bash will be raising awareness and funds to support grassroots disabled sailing globally.
Posted on 16 May
So much happening off the water at World Sailing
Lausanne hosted the mid-year meeting with important points about future of sailing coming out of Switzerland throughout. In a speech by President Carlo Croce to Council outlining three key areas for the federation going forward, Croce highlighted Better Governance, Olympic and Paralympic development and the Sailing World Cup as priorities moving forward.
Posted on 11 May
World Sailing lays out two-year roadmap for continued good governance
World Sailing members approved this weekend a number of changes to its constitution and regulations. World Sailing members approved this weekend a number of changes to its constitution and regulations, which mark the start of the implementation of the modernisation plan.
Posted on 9 May
It's been a busy couple of weeks with the Sailing World Cup
When people say every day was different, they must have got that saying from this event. Evi Van Acker (BEL) completed a hat-trick in the Laser Radial as she won for the third consecutive year, while Matthew Bugg (AUS) won his first ever international event in the 2.4 Norlin OD.
Posted on 4 May
World Sailing announces Rio 2016 press team
Darryl will be supported in his leadership team by Malcolm Page, Chief Marketing Officer of World Sailing. Seibel served as Director of Communications and Olympic Media Strategy for the British Olympic Association from 2009-2014 and before that was the Chief Communications Officer for the United States Olympic Committee. The Rio 2016 Olympics will be his 10th Olympic Games assignment.
Posted on 4 May