Racing began on Tuesday at the IFDS World Championship, Paralympic sailing’s premier annual event, and competitors were treated to sunshine and plentiful breeze. Hosted by the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron, North America’s oldest sailing club, this event serves as the first nation qualifier for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
The first day of racing was a strong one for the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider, with American boats in the top ten in each of the three Paralympic classes competing in Halifax.
In the Sonar, Paralympians and Sonar Disabled Class World Champions Rick Doerr (Clifton, N.J.) and Tim Angle (Reading, Mass.), sailing with Hugh Freund (South Freeport, Maine), sit in third overall after a solid opening scoreline of four, six. Racing close to the shoreline of Halifax harbor on a course that featured an extremely shifty offshore breeze, Doerr and his team fought hard to stay consistent.
Highlighting the day was a sixth place finish in race two, a race in which Doerr, Angle and Freund worked their way back to a keeper score after rounding mark one deep in 16th place. 'We were down, but never got upset,' Said Angle. 'You can’t do that this early in the regatta. We focused big-time and went for it. I’ve never been so happy about a sixth in my life!' While the other US team of Andrew Fisher (Greenwich, Ct.), Mike Hersey (Hyannis, Mass.) and Bradley Johnson (Pompano Beach, Fla.) scored a black flag penalty in race one, they shined in race two, finishing third. Fisher’s team sits in 12th overall.
In the SKUD-18 fleet, the two US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider boats are next to each other in the overall standings, with Ryan Porteous (San Diego, Calif.) and Cindy Walker (Portsmouth, R.I.) in sixth, and Sarah Everhart-Skeels (Tiverton, R.I.) and Gerry Tiernan (Falmouth, Maine) in seventh.
'We felt alright, especially downwind,' said Porteous. 'We made some tactical mistakes, but there was definitely a lot to build on.' Tiernan noted that his team’s second experience together at the IFDS Worlds is already a big improvement from the 2013 event in Kinsale, Ireland. 'Our new boat is great, and we’re starting to figure it out. We are definitely better prepared for Worlds this year, with faster equipment, great coaching and great support from the US Sailing Team.'
The 2.4mR class boasts the largest fleet at the event, with 49 boats. The top American performer on day one was Paralympic bronze medalist and 2.4mR open world champion John Ruf (Pewaukee, Wisc.), who collected scores of nine, eleven for eighth overall.
Ted Green (Newport, R.I.), competing at his first IFDS Worlds, is not far behind in 10th overall. Commenting on how he’s been able to become competitive so quickly after jumping into the class last year, Green noted that teamwork was key. 'It’s been good having (the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider's) Danny Evans (Miami, Fla.) and Charlie Rosenfield (Woodstock, Ct.) to train against this Summer,' said Green. 'Fuzz (US Sailing Team Technical Director Grant Spanhake) also helped me test out my mast, which was awesome.'
Racing at the 2014 IFDS Worlds will take place in Halifax from Tuesday, August 19, to Sunday, August 24. US Roster: 2014 IFDS World Championships 2.4mR Class:
• Eighth, John Ruf (Pewaukee, Wisc.)
• 10th, Ted Green (Newport, R.I.)
• 22nd, Charlie Rosenfield (Woodstock, Ct.)
• 35th, Daniel Evans (Miami, Fla.)
• 37th, Tim Ripley
• 43rd, Kevin Holmberg (Sarasota, Fla.) SKUD-18 Class:
• Sixth, Ryan Porteous (San Diego, Calif.) and Cindy Walker (Portsmouth, R.I.)
• Seventh, Sarah Everhart-Skeels (Tiverton, R.I.) and Gerry Tiernan (Falmouth, Maine) Sonar Class:
• Third, Rick Doerr (Clifton, N.J.), Tim Angle (Reading, Mass.) and Hugh Freund (South Freeport, Maine)
• 12th, Andrew Fisher (Greenwich, Ct.), Mike Hersey (Hyannis, Mass.) and Bradley Johnson (Pompano Beach, Fla.)
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