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Potential Paralympic sailors racing in Hobart

by Peter Campbell on 2 Apr 2010
Derwent Sailing Squadron vice-commodore Ron Bugg and Australia Paralympic coach Greg Omay at the DSS, which will host the International 2.4 metre Australian championships over Easter. Andrea Francolini Photography
Greg Hyde and Matthew Bugg, two potential Paralympics sailors for the London Games in 2012, will be competing in Hobart this weekend in the International 2.4 metre class Australian championships.

Hyde, from Sydney, is a past Olympic sailor in windsurfers, while Matthew Bugg has returned to competitive sailing five years after a snow-boarding accident at St Moritz, Switzerland, left him a paraplegic.

They are among 16 able and disabled sailors competing in the Australian Open Championships for the International 2.4 metre class, a single-handed keelboat that is designed to the same rule as the former America’s Cup class, the International 12 metre class.

Derwent Sailing Squadron is conducting the championships on the River Derwent, starting on the afternoon of Good Friday and running throughout the weekend.

Both Hyde and Bugg are members of the sailing development squad for the 2012 Paralympic Games, with their Paralympic coach, Greg Omay, returning to Hobart to coach them through the championships.

'I see Matthew Bugg as a real prospect to develop to the top level of Paralympic sailing and he has been included in a squad that Yachting Australia is sending overseas this northern hemisphere summer for competition and training,' said expat Tasmanian Omay, who was coach at the Beijing Paralympics where Australia won both a silver and a bronze medal.

'Matt was a top class international yachtsman and was sailing in the Mediterranean until he went snow-boarding at St Moritz, where he had an accident and became a paraplegic. With great determination and motivation, he has returned to sailing in the 2.4 metre class.'

The Paralympics sailors are now part of the Australian Sailing Team. The team heading for Europe includes; Tasmanian Matthew Bugg (2.4 metre class), Rachael Cox (NSW) and Dan Fitzgibbon (QLD). They will be joined by Amy Barnbrook (NSW) and Lindsay Mason (NSW) in the two-person Scud18 class, and the West Australian crews of Colin Harrison, Russell Boaden and Rod Angwin in the three-crew Sonar class.

Cox and Fitzgibbon won the Scud18 silver medal at Beijing, while Colin Harrison, Russell Boaden and Graham Martin won the bronze medal in the Sonar class.

Following a training camp at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, the Paralympics squad will head to Europe to compete in a series of regattas and training camps, including racing at Weymouth, the venue for the 2012 London Paralympics.

'In addition to their sailing skills, the vital part of their preparations will be to get their physical fitness to its peak and make them mentally tough for the competition they will face,' Omay added.

Omay moved to Perth 13 years ago after a sailing career in Hobart that included racing Lightweight Sharpies and sailing five Sydney Hobarts with the legendary John Bennetto.

His children are following in his wake; son James representing Australia in the Youth 420 world championships, while daughters Stacey Omay and Chelsea Hall are campaigning a 470 for the London Olympic Games.

Matthew Bugg’s opponents in the International 2.4 Metre Australian Championships this weekend, include his father Ron, Vice Commodore of the Derwent Sailing Squadron, along with Sydney 2000 Paralympic gold medallist Peter Thompson, and fellow Tasmanians; Ian Ross, Lisa Blackwood, Pam Murray, Nick Lemon and Tony Castray.

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