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Don't forget the Paralympics


The latest sailing news from Asia and the world.
 03 Sep 2016

Don't forget the Paralympics

A few years ago I received a phone call from a sailing journalist in Qingdao. It was September 2008, a couple of weeks after the Olympic regatta had finished. “What are you doing, right now?” was the question. I don't recall my answer, but there was something happening that precluded my jumping on a plane and going back to Qingdao immediately. “The Paralympic regatta starts tomorrow. There are only two journos here, and not one single photographer. You could scoop the world...”

I am ashamed to say that, like the rest of the sailing media world on that occasion, I had completely forgotten the Paralympics.

Eight years later, and visibility is a great deal higher, but all the Paralympic events (and not just the sailing) tend to be substantially overshadowed by the 5-ring circus that precedes them. And yet, surely the Paralympics are even closer to de Coubertin's dictum of ‘taking part being more important than winning'? Starting on 7 September, 4,500 athletes from 176 nations will contest 528 events in 23 sports, one of which is sailing. The exclusion of sailing from the 2020 Paralympic Games due to a gross failure of understanding on the part of the International Sailing Federation (now World Sailing) throws the whole subject into even sharper focus.

Closer to home (well, Hong Kong at least) and Karl Kwok's all-conquering Team Beau Geste has won the Australian IRC Championship title for the third year in a row, at Audi Hamilton Island Raceweek – an event that is just as much a social occasion as it is a regatta. Matt Allen, a familiar face at a number of Asian regattas, finished second. Ray Roberts, another perennial competitor in this part of the world, won the ORCi title with a rather smaller than usual boat – a Sydney 38.

Brace yourselves – after the traditional summer pause, sailing is about to get back into gear in Asia. The seasonal desertees are returning, and it's time to tighten the rigging and renew a few lines. There will be an interesting change in the calendar this year, with the China Cup International Regatta (27-30 October) in a new slot in between the RHKYC's Volvo China Coast Regatta (22-24 October) and the 325-miler to Hainan (starts 02 November). What this will do to attendance figures of the various events will be interesting.

Standing by on 72.

Guy Nowell, Asia Editor

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