Please select your home edition
Edition

Para Sailing Worlds– British defending champions off to perfect start

by RYA on 24 May 2016
Defending Sonar World Champions John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas - 2016 Para World Sailing Championships Sailing Energy
Defending champions John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas got their world title defence off to the perfect start, picking up two race wins on the first day of competition at the Para World Sailing Championships in the Netherlands (24-28 May).

The British Sailing Team Sonar trio mastered breezy conditions on the Ijsselmeer at Medemblik to take an early overall lead at the five day regatta, with Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell also grabbing hold of the yellow jerseys at the first opportunity in the two-person SKUD fleet.

A strong northerly 15-22 knot breeze brought with it some cold conditions to challenge the three Paralympic classes, but Robertson, Stodel and Thomas enjoyed the physical Sonar racing, crossing the finish line first in both races, and with a substantial 49 second lead in the second.

“It was breezy and shifty with big ranges in breeze as well so you had to use a lot of technique, a lot of trimming, and comms were up right around the race track for the whole day,” said Thomas.

“It was really good, and those are the kind of conditions we favour the most.”

“The fleet is super competitive, but the usual top suspects were up there today – us, the Australians, the Norwegians, the French. We were all battling it out from the start,” the Welshman added.

“Obviously it would be nice to come away with a win but predominantly it’s about looking at form for the Games. That’s where we want to be peaking,” he continued, as the team builds towards what they hope will be their first Paralympic medal this September.

“We want to be ticking off some of the racecraft we’ve been doing at the last couple of events, and some of the kit selections as well.”

Craig Wood, Steve Palmer and Liam Cattermole are in 11th place after their first two races.

In the SKUD class, five-time World Champions and 2012 bronze medallists Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell could be satisfied with a solid opening day, taking an early overall lead after their opening two races.

“It’s always nice on the first day to not throw in any absolute shockers – we managed to do that with both our results in the top three, so that was good,” Birrell explained.

“Me and Alexandra seem to be going quite well in the breeze at the moment, we seem to have a nice set up. It was a little but chilly – absolutely freezing actually, but it was nice to finish with a one and we’re in good shape.”

Rickham and Birrell picked up a third in their opening race of the day and followed it up with a race win to sit ahead of the Polish crew, and the Australian defending champions and 2012 gold medallists after two of ten races.

“The races were quite tight today, the Poles were leading a couple of them,” Birrell explained. “We had a nice little battle with the Aussies and the Poles in the first one, just got the wrong side of that unfortunately. In the second one there were three boats out clear again but we managed to get the right side of it on the second race which was good.”

Birrell admits he has eyes on a sixth world title this week, but is ultimately focussing on the bigger picture of Rio gold.

“There’s four days left to go so a lot can happen but there are two aims of the week really. The first is to try and win, and the second is to work out anything that we need to be better at before Rio.

“That’s more important at this stage to know what we need to work on.”

In the one-person 2.4mR fleet, Open World Champion Megan Pascoe is the leading British sailor after a steady first day, placing in sixth overall, with Helena Lucas hampered by equipment issues on her opening day to sit in eighth place. Podium Potential talents Carol Dugdale, Will Street and John Brooker are in 10th, 11th and 15th places respectively.

Racing at the Para World Sailing Championships runs through until Saturday 28 May, with two races scheduled per day for each of the three classes.

Related Articles

Harriet Averns named RYA Yachtmaster of the Year
Presented with the prestigious trophy by Richard Falk 25-year-old Kent sailor, Harriet Averns has been named as the recipient of the RYA Yachtmaster® of the Year award for her exceptional demonstration of sailing skills during her RYA Yachtmaster Certificate of Competence exam.
Posted on 13 Jan
RYA welcomes new Chief Executive Sara Sutcliffe
A new year... and a new CEO at the RYA's helm It's a new year and 'all change' at the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) as the team today welcomes Sara Sutcliffe MBE as the organisation's new Chief Executive.
Posted on 10 Jan
VAT changes to affect recreational boat owners
Confirmation of a Returned Goods Relief waiver is "outstanding news" The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) reported the Government's intention to waive the three-year condition for Returned Goods Relief (RGR) on the 09 December.
Posted on 20 Dec 2021
RYA welcomes returned goods relief waiving intent
The draft legislation will amend reference documents for The Customs Regulations 2020 Following a meeting between the RYA and HMRC on 17 November, we welcome the government's intent to waive the 3-year condition for RGR for pleasure craft that are the personal property of a UK resident which are being returned to the UK for personal use.
Posted on 9 Dec 2021
Environment Agency proposed registration charges
Changes made after the Royal Yachting Association concerns are listened to The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) welcomes the final outcome given that it had made clear that an opportunity had been missed to create a strategic and viable financial plan for EA waterways.
Posted on 7 Dec 2021
FREE ticket to first ever BoatLife Live boat show
Exclusively for RYA Members The RYA is pleased to announce that all members are now able to take advantage of one FREE ticket to the new BoatLife Live Boat Show taking place from 17 - 20 February 2022 at the NEC Birmingham, in the heart of the midlands.
Posted on 5 Dec 2021
RYA welcomes Government assurance
That changes to Immigration Act will not criminalise boaters The Home Office has confirmed to the RYA that the amendments the Government is making to section 25 of the Immigration Act 1971 are only intended to apply to those who unlawfully assist immigration and help asylum seekers to enter the UK.
Posted on 25 Nov 2021
RYA Volunteer Awards
HRH The Princess Royal celebrates boating's outstanding volunteers Dedicated volunteers from across the UK were awarded for their exceptional commitment and achievements in boating last week (19 November) by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal.
Posted on 25 Nov 2021
RYA renews commitment to reducing carbon emissions
By adopting the United Nations Sports for Climate Action's new target RYA is proud to renew the commitment to reducing carbon emissions by adopting the United Nations Sports for Climate Action's new targets of reducing emissions by 50 per cent by 2030, and of reaching net zero emissions by 2040.
Posted on 9 Nov 2021
Sign up for the RYA Affiliated Clubs Conference
The hybrid 2021 edition kicks off on Monday 8th November Following on from the success of the RYA's first-ever virtual Affiliated Clubs Conference last year, the hybrid 2021 edition kicks off on 8th November with a live online evening hosted by double Olympic gold medallist and broadcaster Shirley Robertson.
Posted on 3 Nov 2021