September 18 - 25, 2016: Issue 281

Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch Win Second Gold Medal at Rio 2016 Paralympics

Reports by Richard Aspland - World Sailing, Photos by Richard Langdon/World Sailing

Tasmania's Matt Bugg - Silver!

Dan and Liesl with Teammate, Shipwright and the guys that holds the SKUD team together Tim Lowe, our beaming-with-happiness super-coach from over-the-ditch Geoff Woolley - sharing the Gold!! - image courtesy Clareus Bearus 

Liesl stated, via Facebook yesterday, to all of us who were following their campaign, 

"Daniel Fitzgibbon is an absolute legendary sailor! ...thanks to lending him to the SKUD program Kumi Fitzgibbon and Hana!

It's so beautifully incredible to feel all the joy within the Aussie sailing team! Teammate, Shipwright and the guys that holds the SKUD team together Tim Lowe, our beaming-with-happiness super-coach from over-the-ditch Geoff Woolley, and the Sonar boys: Colin Harrison, Russell Boaden and Jonathon Harris (& their ecstatic coach Grant Alderson) are over the moon with joy and we are all energising and lovingly, calmly sending all we can to our team-mate Matt Bugg to get him onto the podium with us this afternoon.

Thanks to my physio Sarah Ross, and our team managers Mark Robinson and Shellee Ferguson, and tech guru Andrew Lechte.

Most importantly, the love and support from home has been overwhelmingly fantastically brilliant and SO appreciated!!! Much love and gratitude to everyone who has believed in Dan and I and have supported and cheered for us during the journey since London.

Our hearts are filled with gratitude to everyone, and for the opportunity we have had to represent Australia in this incredibly beautiful country at a phenomenal Paralympic Games!!

And it was wonderful to eat a porterhouse steak last night and propose a quiet toast to our beautiful mother Pam Tesch, who has been with Trudii and I here in Rio in spirit having the time of her life!! Go Pammie and all our Mums!!!

The biggest GOLDIE needs to go to Cariocas (people of Rio), and to all the volunteers and Rio2016 workers who embraced the Paralympic Games and ensured the legacy will live forever!!

I'm totally feeling honoured to be a part of the Australian Paralympic Team & the global Paralympic movement!"

Seguin claims gold in Flamengo Beach thriller

Sunday September 18, 2016L 7.00 a.m. AEST

In a finale fitting on the setting, the Rio 2016 Paralympic Sailing Competition came to a spectacular close with the medals decided in front of a sell-out crowd lining the shores of Flamengo Beach. 

Racing on the Pao de Acucar (Sugarloaf Mountain) race course, onlookers were treated to a thrilling climax in which some medals were settled by just seconds. 

After 11 races under the backdrop of Sugarloaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer, the stakes were high for a chosen few sailors who had the opportunity to grab a Paralympic medal. But while some would feel the elation, some would inevitable miss out. 

The final gold to be decided went to France's Damien Seguin who joined Australia's Two Person and Three Person teams who wrapped up the gold the previous day. 

One Person Keelboat – 2.4 Norlin OD 

France's Damien Seguin became a double Paralympic gold medallist when he crossed the line in fourth position in front of the only sailor that could mathematically beat him, London 2012 gold medallist, Great Britain's Helena Lucas. 

Straight in to the mixed zone to speak to the waiting press, Seguin said in his usual cool, calm demeanor, "I'm just happy. I'm just happy as I have worked a lot since my fourth place in London 2012. I was sure I could do it, and I did.” 

The French sailor never doubted his own talent and with a history of international titles to back it up, the confidence was well founded, "Of course I expecting to do it. I'm a competitor, so I always go for first place. My start to the regatta was not very good, but every day I improved my racing. I always say that the regatta is 11 races, not 10. And by the 11th race I got to first overall.” 

Seguin's French charm and likeable manner will make him a popular winner, but for Seguin he also had some familiar faces watching on, people close to his heart, "I have an association in France for people with disabilities and they came to Rio this week. They were at the beach every day to support me. It was amazing. This association is for encouraging people with disabilities to go sailing.”

Hoping to inspire people with disabilities, Seguin sailed consistently high throughout the regatta with his lowest placed finish a sixth. 

Another consistent sailor, Australia's Matt Bugg, won silver thanks to a bullet in the final race of the competition. That win leapfrogged Bugg in to the silver spot and dropped former champion Lucas in to bronze as she finished down the fleet in 15th. 

Threatening Lucas' place on the podium was USA's Dee Smith. Any further up than the sixth place he crossed the line in and it could have a very anxious moment for the Briton. Luckily the points she had built up through the early race days stood her in good stead for another Paralympic medal.

Two Person Keelboat – SKUD18

Sailing in the SKUD18 fleet were the only sailors in history to defend a Paralympic title. That honour was bestowed on Australia's Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch with two races to spare in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Sailing Competition. Sailing on day five was just a victory lap. A victory lap they still finished second place in. 

Fighting behind the dominant Aussies were John McRoberts and Jackie Gay (CAN), Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell (GBR) and Monika Gibes and Piotr Cichocki (POL). 

The Polish world champions approached the start line knowing they had to put boats between themselves and both the Canadian and Great British teams. They sailed perfectly to take the bullet in the final race, but with only the Australian gold medallists behind, it was not to be for Gibes and Cichocki. They had finished fourth overall.

McRoberts and Gay had the advantage over their British rivals on the overnight leaderboard. But from the start of the race, they fell behind. In the latter stages of the race they came back alongside the British for a wrestling match, which also included a potential Italian spanner in the works. 

The to-ing and fro-ing between the three teams continued right to the end. Canada crossed in third for silver. With the Polish team taking the bullet, Great Britain had to stay ahead of the battling Italians to take the fourth. They did, and with that the bronze medal. 

Knowing that they had the silver medal, McRobert and Gay had time to reflect on the stress leading up to the Games which had their participation in doubt, "We sailed very well and came in well rested. Jackie had a small injury beforehand and there was a time where we were unsure what the future would hold,” explained Mc Roberts. 

Gay interuppted, "I only got signed off to sail the day before the practice race at 1o'clock. Until then we weren't sure. I fell off the boat and hit the trailer with my head quite badly.” 

McRoberts continued, "Jackie's a real trooper. She's got real pain threshold so when she says she's in pain, she's in major pain. She was in major pain. Thanks to the Canadian team, they took great care of us. They were a blessing.” 

The threat of missing out may have been a blessing in disguise for the Canadians. It changed their attitude to the whole competition, "We had a really good start,” began McRoberts, "Normally I can't eat or sleep but that wasn't the case. I put myself into the head space that I was going to enjoy the experience. A lot of times I put a lot of pressure on myself and that doesn't really do anything for me except negative thoughts. Sailing is a sport where you need to be loosey goosey and it's all about feel. 

"Something special happened to us. We blessed Cristo [Christ the Redeemer] every day, had our patience hats on and communicated well.” 

From Canadian belief to Great British relief. Bronze medallist Rickham said, "We are relieved. It's been a long, very hard week for us. We came here hoping to contest for the gold but that slipped away quite quickly. We're so happy to get a medal. It was close to being silver but the Sugarloaf course just didn't play out for us. John [McRoberts] and Jackie [Gay] sailed well and really deserved that medal. We're just elated. It's great to be able to come away from our second Games with another medal.”

Three Person Keelboat – Sonar

With the gold wrapped up in the Sonar by the Australian team of Colin Harrison, Russell Boaden and Jonathan Harris with a race to spare, it was down to the battle for silver and bronze. 

Mathematically there were still quite a few teams left in the fight, but USA and Canada, sitting in second and third respectively, had the advantage before the final race got underway. That advantage paid dividends in the end as Alphonsus Doerr, Hugh Freund and Bradley Kendell (USA) confirmed silver with Paul Tingley, Logan Campbell and Scott Lutes (CAN) taking bronze, but only just. 

USA set their stall out early and headed for the top end of the fleet, they knew where they needed to be. At the half way point they hit the front, and they stayed there to claim a race win and the silver medal. 

Kendall will take to the podium with his teammates, but he had to endure a restless night as he knew the pressure was on, "Not much sleep last night, not much sleep. Woke up in the middle of the night and certainly started thinking about the race and how we were going to get out there and manage it and what we had to do. We wanted to win that race and go out in style and that's what we do. But not much sleep. 

Freund bounced in with enthusiasm, "I slept great last night and woke up early and did some yoga.” "Good for you,” said Kendall. The sleep patterns may be different but the collective result was the same. 

Claiming the 2016 Para World Sailing Championships earlier in the year had given the Americans the experience to call upon when faced with a similar final race situation, "We went into today knowing we'd had one rough day and four pretty good ones and we were in the same position we were in before the world championship with everything to play for. We knew if we sailed the boat the way the three of us know how to, everything would work out. It was really good execution from every person on the team.” 

Race execution paid, but there was also a little help from another source as Kendall called in an old 'family favour', "I'm half a New Zealander, my dad was from there. The Kiwis sort of owed us a favour from the other day. They really fought with us at the end. They weren't giving us too much. We knew we had to go straight to the finish line as fast as we could and we were still working on sail trim on the reach. That's what it was all about.” 

New Zealand's Richard Dodson, Andrew May and Chris Sharp rounded the first mark back in eighth position, but from there they charged to the front to worry the Canadians. The Kiwis pushed USA right to the finish but missed out on the bullet by just one second. 

Further back the Canadians weren't making life easy for themselves. From the start they fell to the back and had to pick off a few boats and make their way through the field in the hunt for a medal. 

USA had beaten New Zealand to first by one second and Canada eventually pipped France by one second to get seventh. That collective two seconds had shaped the medal podium as Canada and New Zealand where now tied on overall points. The Canadians won on a countback thanks to two race wins to the New Zealanders one.

For Campbell, it was all a bit too close for comfort, "We were unsure on the results and it probably took three or four minutes to find out where we finished, but we didn't know until our coach told us. We knew it was tight and when racing was done it was a pressure release.”

Teammate Lutes summed up for the team what the being on the podium means to them, with a traditional culinary reference, "It's a treat, it's a treat,” he chuckled. "We love racing and that's why we do it. No matter what, happy to be here but on a cake, icing is nice and this is the icing on the cake.”

By Richard Aspland - World Sailing

Aussie gold rush on the shores of Rio de Janeiro

September 17, 2016: 8.43 a.m.AEST

There was Aussie elation at the Marina da Gloria on day five as the Rio 2016 Paralympic gold medals were wrapped up in the Two Person (SKUD18) and Three Person Keelboat (Sonar) with a day to spare. 

Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch in the SKUD18 were yet again on fire as they took two bullets from two races to seal the first ever Paralympic sailing title defence in commanding fashion. 

In the Sonar, Colin Harrison, Russell Boaden and Jonathan Harris go in to the final race with a healthy 24-point lead and a guaranteed gold medal that ensures Advance Australia Fair will ring out on Flamengo Beach twice come the Medal Ceremony. 

It was looking like the Australian anthem could be played three times as Matt Bugg came ashore with a four point lead in the One Person Keelboat (2.4 Norlin OD) only to be disqualified from the final race, demoting him to third and promoting Great Britain's Helena Lucas to the top spot.

Two Person Keelboat – SKUD18 

From start to finish, Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch have made the head of the fleet their own. From ten races they have eight wins and two second place finishes to sit on 10 points overall with a lead of 21 points over John McRoberts and Jackie Gay (CAN) in second. They wrapped up the gold with two races to spare. 

But just how have they done it, for Tesch the inspiration comes from one man, "Australian sailing legend John Bertrand told us, "loose as a goose”, and I think all those conditions getting flung at us out on the Bay, we are just so adaptable and able to handle it. We put in the hard yards before we got here and its paid off.” 

Tesch is known around the boat park as being a larger than life character and often refers to sailing as 'a crazy sport', so when playfully asked if Tesch is the crazy one, Fitzgibbon agrees with a laugh, "Sometimes it does helps to have a crazy partner. But we can adapt to everything, we can deal with craziness and deal with instability and come out on top.” 

His sailing partner isn't the only person Fitzgibbon acknowledges, "We have the best support crew around with coach Geoff Woolley and Tim Lowe. Tim has been with me since the silver in Beijing [2008] and he puts more in to the SKUD than anyone. If he was paid by the hour we would all be bankrupt.” 

With talk moving from their own achievements, it shows the camaraderie in the Aussie camp that celebrations will be put on hold for a little bit, as Tesch explains, "It's awesome to have the Sonar boys in the gold medal position as well, but we really got to hold it together for Matt Bugg to give him all our energy and support to get him over the line.” 

Half interrupting, Fitzgibbon says, "Guess what. We are the first back to back Paralympic gold medal sailors in history.” That fact is met with the usual loud and excited whoop from Tesch. 

With the gold medal sewn up, the fight is on for silver and bronze. McRoberts and Gay hold the silver medal position at present after a 2,6 day to finish on 31 points. One point back is Great Britain's Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell who scored a 4,5. 

With a 2,5, Polish world champions, Monika Gibes and Piotr Cichocki, have some work to do and need to put a few boats between themselves and both Canada and Great Britain if they are to make the podium. They currently have 36 points. 

Three Person Keelboat – Sonar 

With Fitzgibbon and Tesch securing gold with two races to spare, counterparts Colin Harrison, Russell Boaden and Jonathan Harris were next in line to secure another Australian gold ahead of the final race. 

Yet again consistency was the key as a second place gave the Aussies a strong advantage going in to race ten. All they had to do was finish in the top 11 places for the race and the gold was theirs. They won the race just to put the shine on it. 

Fresh off the water Harrison said, "It's just elation. It's been a long time coming and it feels great to get there. I don't know yet, still trying to work it out, I can't describe it. There's a lot of emotion.” 

Harrison couldn't quite find the words to describe the win, but he found some when it came to why the whole Australian Sailing Team have been doing so well, "I think we have just got the best work ethic, culture, support and everything going on in the background is all about achieving success. That's what we felt over the years and that's why we are here today, without a doubt.” 

For Harris a particular example of this support came to mind, "Going to Miami [USA] earlier on this year was a really important regatta, getting to sail against the Americans and Canadians there. We couldn't afford to go but the team got behind us and somehow the money appeared and we got some tickets and accommodation and we were there. Things like that have helped all the way through.” 

Being consistent at Rio 2016 was no fluke for the Australian Sonar team. They have been consistent all year, and longer, leading up to the Paralympic Games, but it has always been that little bit out of reach for them, until now, "What's been frustrating is, in the last three years, we've always been on the podium but always a point or two away and it's been frustrating but you know what?” asks Harris, "This is the one that obliterates all those memories. Being the last Paralympics for sailing, it's a good one to have won.” 

The Australian win was largely helped by their nearest rivals at the start of the day, USA, faltering. Current world champions Alphonsus Doerr, Hugh Freund and Bradley Kendell were within reach of the gold at the beginning of play, but with a disappointing eighth and discarded tenth they fell too far back to challenge for the top step on the podium.

The Americans hold on to second with 43 points, but their North American neighbours and training partner, Canada, are just one point behind on 44. Paul Tingley, Logan Campbell and Scott Lutes finished the day with a seventh and a second in the final race of the day. 

In fourth place on the leaderboard with 48 points are London 2012 bronze medallists, Norway. Greece and New Zealand are next on 49 points, just one point ahead of Germany on 50. 

There is still all to play for in the Sonar for silver and bronze Paralympic medals. 

One Person Keelboat – 2.4 Norlin OD 

Great Britain's Helena Lucas leads the 2.4 Norlin OD fleet, but it could have all been so different. 

When the boats docked at the Marina da Gloria, Australia's Matt Bugg was holding a guaranteed Paralympic medal and a four-point advantage at the top. But in a change of fortunes, Bugg finds himself with a lot of work to do just to make sure he doesn't leave Rio 2016 empty handed after a jury decision went against him and in favour of the protestor, Arturo Montes-Vorcy (ESP). 

That decision also moved France's Damien Seguin from a guaranteed Paralympic medal, to a guaranteed Paralympic silver medal. 

"Today was a terrible day of sailing,” Seguin said laughing, "I was really close with the other guys, especially with the American [Dee Smith] who was fighting for the podium today, but finally it was really good for me. Two second places. I am really happy tonight because I'm on the podium.” 

Seguin's second win of the day was later upgraded to first as the Bugg protest result trickled through the fleet. 

Champion in Athens 2004, silver in Beijing 2008 and fourth in London 2012. Seguin is happy to be back on the medal trail, "It's my third medal. It's just crazy. It hasn't sunk in yet, tomorrow maybe. I'm still in the race [for gold] and we will see tomorrow.” 

That race for gold will be against the reigning champion Helena Lucas. Lucas sits on 25 points and just one point above Seguin on 26. It'll be a shootout for gold on the final day. 

With the protest changing Bugg's final race bullet to a disqualification, the Aussie fell from top to third where he sits with 35 points. Sailing consistently all week, Bugg finished 14th in Race 9, which he counts, and now finds himself in a fight for bronze with Dee Smith (USA). 

With silver and bronze still up for grabs in the Sonar and SKUD18 and a tense race for gold in the 2.4 Norlin OD, the final race day will welcome a full house of spectators lining the sands of Flamengo Bay with racing scheduled to start at 12:00 local time. 

By Richard Aspland - World Sailing

NEWSFLASH - Fitzgibbon and Tesch claim Paralympic gold

Saturday September 17, 2016: 3.30a.m. AEST

Protest pending, Australia's Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch have defended their Two Person Keelboat (SKUD18) Paralympic title with two races to spare at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Sailing Competition. 

Before day five started, Fitzgibbon and Tesch had already posted a remarkable six race wins and two second place finishes to put a 15-point gap between them and their nearest rivals from Canada and Great Britain. 

Regardless of what John McRoberts and Jackie Gay (CAN) and Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell (GBR) did in race nine, the Aussies only needed to finish in the top four to ensure an unassailable lead, guaranteeing gold. 

Almost predictably they finished with yet another race win to cap an emphatic title defense with the silver and bronze medals to be decided. 

Fitzgibbon now boasts a Paralympic haul of two gold medals and one silver in the SKUD18, a run that started at Beijing 2008 when he sailed with Rachael Cox. 

Partner Tesch won two silvers and a bronze in Wheelchair Basketball before teaming up with Fitzgibbon and winning back to back sailing gold medals.

By Richard Aspland - World Sailing

NEWSFLASH - Australia takes second Rio gold as Sonar team win

Saturday 17th September, 2016 : 6.30 a.m. AEST

Colin Harrison, Russell Boaden and Jonathan Harris have won gold, pending any protests, in the Three Person Keelboat (Sonar) at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Sailing Competition with a race to spare. 

Sailing at a consistently high level all week, Harrison, Boaden and Harris take a 24-point advantage in to the final race of the competition which puts them out of reach of their nearest rivals, USA, in second. 

The win confirms a second medal for Australia at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and takes their medal tally to two guaranteed golds following Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch's win the Two Person Keelboat (SKUD18) earlier in the day. 

The gold will be a second medal for both Harrison and Boaden as they claimed bronze in Beijing 2008, sailing with Graeme Martin. It is Harris' first Paralympic medal.

The fight for silver and bronze will continue to the final day with USA and Canada in pole position for the remaining medals. 

By Richard Aspland - World Sailing

NEWSFLASH - Seguin wins second gold medal at Rio 2016

Sunday, September 18, 2016: 5.46 a.m. AEST

France's Damien Seguin has won his second Paralympic Games gold medal, pending any protests, at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. With a win in Athens 2004, Seguin now adds the One Person Keelboat (2.4 Norlin OD) Rio 2016 title to his collection.

Needing to finish above London 2012 champion, Great Britain's Helena Lucas, Seguin sailed to a fourth place finish while Lucas could only manage a 15th. With that, Lucas takes the bronze medal.

Winning the final race, Australia's Matt Bugg leapfrogged Lucas to take the silver medal, a third medal of the Games for his country.

Seguin has been the most consistent all week with his lowest place finish a sixth. With that discarded he finishes on 30 points, with Bugg on 36 and Lucas on 40.

Australia threatening a Rio sailing whitewash: How do you stop two Australian's in a boat?

Friday September 16, 2016: 8.12 a.m. AEST

Australia moved to the top of every fleet at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Sailing Competition thanks to a thrilling finish in the final race of the day in the One Person Keelboat (2.4 Norlin OD). 

Already sitting very pretty at the top of the Two Person Keelboat (SKUD18), the Australian Three Person Keelboat (Sonar) team sailed consistently again to hold on to top spot before a determined Matt Bugg made it a clean sweep for his nation at the end of race day four.

With world champions galore in the 2.4 Norlin OD fleet, Bugg can mix it with the best calling upon a wealth of competition experience. But it wasn't until April 2016 that the Aussie sailor won his first international regatta. Now he is threatening to take the biggest prize of all from under the noses of a high calibre fleet.

One Person Keelboat – 2.4 Norlin OD 

Sailing consistently, and it seemed quite quietly, Australia's Matt Bugg has been hanging around the top five positions in every race. 

While the attention has been on the world champions and Paralympic gold medallists in the fleet, Bugg has just been plugging away, getting good results. Now he can no longer fly under the radar with two bullets and a second place from three day four races.

Bugg sit's just one point ahead of Great Britain's defending champion, Helena Lucas, thanks to a photo finish in the final race of the day. Talking about his ongoing duel with the Briton, Bugg said, "It was really close. That's twice today Helena and I finished with a metre between us and now there's one point between us as well,” he chuckled. 

"It's amazing, you know, the difference between coming first or second in the last race of the day and what sort of mood that can put you in for the rest of the night. Yesterday I was annoyed because Helena got me right on the line and today I'm stoked because I got her right on the line.” 

The Australian has been the most consistent sailor so far in the fleet, but even he can't put his finger on why that is, "I'm not sure how I've done it. There's still a few races left where I can ruin that [consistency] though. But I think on these race courses you've just got to never give up. There's always a chance that you can get back in again and the same when you're leading, as someone can always catch up. You've really got to concentrate from the start of the first race to the last moment of the final race.” 

On his day Bugg can, and has beaten everyone in the fleet, but it wasn't until the Sailing World Cup Hyeres in April this year when he beat everyone together at the same event, "I've always known I can beat these guys but until then [Hyeres] I'd never beaten them all in the same regatta. Of course it gave me the confidence that I could win races and also win regattas. Confidence is very important in this game.” 

More confidence can be taken from sitting on the top on 16 points looking down at the rest of the field behind him, but only just behind in Lucas' case as she has 17 points. 

There are always two sides to a story and hearing from Bugg on his budding rivalry with Lucas, it was only right to ask the Briton the same question, "The last race was all going quite well and I was feeling quite chilled, playing the shifts and then literally, I was keeping an eye on Damien, the French guy, because he was second and I didn't really think I needed to worry too much about Matt. But literally I looked over and he's got this massive lift and caught up loads.

"We went round neck and neck at the top mark and then down the run it was neck and neck. Across the finish I caught a wave and surged forwards and I thought I'd got it so it was that close.” 

Lucas may have been shocked to see Bugg in her rear view mirror in the last race, but not at the top fighting for gold, "Matt's had a great year. He's really found his form this year. I always thought Heiko [Kroeger] and Damien [Seguin]. Damien still is certainly one to keep an eye on. Matt's showed some really good performance this year and I always knew he'd be somebody to keep an eye on.” 

With Christ the Redeemer looking down on the sailing areas, Lucas is hoping for a bit of divine intervention of her own to get Bugg out of his top five streak, "I'm hoping the gods of Brazil might be able to rustle something up tomorrow for me.” 

Sitting in third on 23 points is former world champion Damien Seguin (FRA). With three races still to go, the Frenchman is not going to give up on a medal, and as he walks through the mixed zone he stops and says, "For now, I have one foot on the podium and I want a medal.” 

To get that medal he needs to hold off the chasers, and with a gap opening up to fourth placed Dee Smith (USA) who has 31 points and Heiko Kroeger (GER) and Bjornar Erikstad (NOR) who have 35 points, Seguin will feel a hint of confidence.

Two Person Keelboat – SKUD18 

How do you stop two Australian's in a boat? Well in the SKUD18 fleet it would seem that no one can answer that question. 

London 2012 gold medallists, Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch, have continued to dominate the class and took two more bullets on day four to cement their place at the top of the pack. With a commanding 15-point buffer from the second and third placed Canadian and British teams heading in to the final stages of the competition, it would look like a Paralympic defence is inevitable, barring a complete 'disaster' of course. 

With the Australian's on eight points, Canada's John McRoberts and Jackie Gay and Great Britain's Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell are continuously falling back and sit on 23 points. And there is a sense of defeat from both teams creeping in. 

With a 2,5 for the day, Gay talks about the Aussie chase ahead of her, "Obviously we have three races left, I guess the Australian's could have a complete disaster. It could happen and it does happen. But we are just looking to maximise our performance and finish off this regatta as we started.”

The race for a medal is still on, even if it isn't gold, and Gay has a plan in place ready to go – avoid any disqualifications, "Tomorrows plan will be to stay clean. No one wants letters on the scorecard. People want numbers. So race clean is our thing. We never do that engaging thing anyway, we just race our race and do what we do best and sail hopefully.” 

Not thinking much further than the next day's racing, Gay said, "To finish on the podium is just too much to think about at the moment, it would be amazing.” 

Equal on points, Birrell talked through his teams 4,5 day, "The racing was great today in Rio, with good courses and good wind. Unfortunately, we didn't have a great day with not being able to get the boat going fast at all. The next three races are really important now, as it is super close between second, third & fourth now, and no one wants to finish fourth.” 

Someone will have to finish in fourth and someone has to take gold, but Birrell is resigned to the fact it will probably not be his team, "I don't like to be negative and anything can happen, but we put on a lot of points today and the Australian's went 1,1.  I'm a positive person, but I think the gold is gone. 

"I'm quite a positive person normally, or deluded normally, but now the gap is far too big. And our biggest concern is to sail well enough tomorrow to grab the Silver.” 

The Britons will have to better the Canadian's scores to take the silver, but both teams will also need to keep one eye on Monika Gibes and Piotr Cichocki (POL) behind them. Sitting in fourth on 29 points, the Polish team took a second and a third to edge ever closer to the podium positions. 

Three Person Keelboat – Sonar

With not quite the same dominance as their compatriots in the SKUD18, the Australian Sonar team remain on top of the fleet to help their country lead across the board. 

A bullet and a third gave Colin Harrison, Russell Boaden and Jonathan Harris another solid day of scoring, leaving them on 16 points to lead the fleet at the end of eight races. The Aussie team have been on it all week posting consistent top finishes, but to USA's Alphonsus Doerr, that isn't really a surprise, "Here's the thing, they have been the most consistent all year. Way back in Melbourne [at the 2015 Para World Sailing Championships] at the end of last year they were leading the regatta and just missed out at the end. Since then they have been on the podium in just about every regatta. Sailing World Cups. World Championships.

"It's consistency that wins and they are playing great ball right now. We would love for them to go haywire and we jump them, but we can only focus on our job.” 

Doerr, along with teammates Hugh Freund and Bradley Kendell, are the closest challengers to the Australians and had a mixed day with some indecision counting against them in race one, "There were lots of debate for us other whether we played the current or the wind shifts and it confused us a little bit. We were just overthinking it.” 

All singing from the same hymn sheet in race two, the Americans got back on track, "The second race you could use the current more. We did that and got a second after a fight with our mates and training partners, the Canadians. Overall we are pleased with the day though and we will take second on the leaderboard.” 

With Australia on 16 points, USA on 27 points in second and Paul Tingley, Logan Campbell and Scott Lutes (CAN) on 35 points leading a chasing pack in third, it's hard to know which way Doerr and his teammates need to look, "I'm trying to figure if it's a 50/50 or 60/40 thing. We still look forward, and we always will look forward. But it's a tough question. We have to look forward but also look back at what's chasing you.” 

Anyone in the top nine is still in with a shout of a medal in the Sonar. With a gold medal from Athens 2004, Israel's Dror Cohen is hoping that him and his teammates Arnon Efrati and Shimon Ben Yakov can sneak in above a tough field for another Paralympic medal, but he knows it won't be easy, "At last we had a consistent day today. I need to see the scores but I know it is close. We will fight to the end and try to get it but it's going to take persistence and whoever wants it more will get it.” 

The obvious next question. How much does Cohen want it? "I want it the most.” 

Cohen sits in seventh place on 38 points, in the mix of six teams separated by five points currently chasing the bronze medal. 

The racing continues at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Sailing Competition on Friday 16 September with all fleets scheduled for two races. The Sonars are on the Escola Naval course at 13:00 local time with the SKUD18 and the 2.4 Norlin OD fleet on the Pao de Acucar (Sugarloaf Mountain) area at 13:00 and 13:10 respectively. 

By Richard Aspland - World Sailing

Dominant day for the British as the fight back begins

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Domination was the word of the third day at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Sailing Competition as Great Britain's two-time Three Person Keelboat (Sonar) World Champions finally announced their arrival out on Guanabara Bay. 

John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas (GBR) have a wealth of experience behind them and are at their fourth Paralympic Games, but the first two days have not gone to plan for the 2015 world champions. Three bullets from three races was a tonic that was desperately needed to boost their chances, undoubtedly giving them performance of the day.

In a very close second for that accolade were defending Two Person Keelboat (SKUD18) Paralympic champions, Australia's Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch, who day by day eek out more of a lead on their rivals. In the One Person Keelboat (2.4 Norlin OD) it is still anyone's guess as the positions continue to trade as the discard comes in to play for all three fleets. 

Three Person Keelboat – Sonar

Race day three. Three people in a boat. Three races. Three wins. If three isn't the lucky number for Great Britain's Robertson, Stodel and Thomas then it certainly should be after today. 

Languishing in the bottom half of the fleet with a 11,9,14 on the scorecard it looked like the chase for a medal was over before it had begun for the British team. Whatever went on in the nightly debrief after day two, it definitely worked. 

Not giving too much away, Thomas said, "Some of the stuff we talked about last night in the debrief we came out on the water today and implemented.”

He continued, "The debrief from last night was mainly to believe. Which then allowed us to follow our plan. So believe and then execute with a positive mindset. We love the medium to strong breeze and we have been working on a few techniques with our new coach which are working.” 

If the team is to continue up the leaderboard and get a first Paralympic medal in their fourth attempt, they will need a lot more of that belief that worked so well, but they also need boats around them to falter. For Thomas though, their destiny is still in their own hand's, "All we have to do is worry about our own performance and not worry about the others. Having three firsts makes you feel positive and I'm not sure how that has helped us with the overall scores. The boat is going well now, and we can't influence others.  

"For us it is about sticking to our processes and coming out strong and delivering on what we can do.  If we can then be in the medal zone we will be happy.”

The Britons now sit in fifth place on 23 points. 

Still leading the way are the Australian team of Colin Harrison, Russell Boaden and Jonathan Harris who posted two second places and a discarded seventh for the day to leave the team on 12 points. They are followed in second by 2016 world champions Alphonsus Doerr, Hugh Freund and Bradley Kendell (USA) who rocketed up from seventh place with a 2,3,3 to finish on 18 points. 

New Zealand's Richard Dodson, Andrew May and Chris Sharp are third on 21 points with London 2012 bronze medallists, Norway's Aleksander Wang-Hansen, Marie Solberg and Per Eugen Kristiansen just one point back on 22. 

Two Person Keelboat – SKUD18

Tasting success at the London 2012 Paralympic Games has obviously left Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch hungry for more as yet again they leave the Marina da Gloria at the end of a race day top of the leaderboard. 

Fitzgibbon has previously summed up his partnership with Tesch saying that he was 'the still water to her rapids', and in true form he calmly and quietly described the day, "The key ingredient to being successful was just keeping it together, keeping your head on and just keeping on sailing. That's all we could do and just try and do as well as we could.” 

Three races and scoring a 1,2,1 has taken its toll on the Aussie, but it doesn't matter, there's a gold medal at stake, "The conditions were opposite from yesterday. A real test of endurance, crazy. But in sailing we get everything and that's why we love it.” He continued, "I'm pretty tired after three races today and a long day yesterday. I'm keen to get home, recover and be back tomorrow.”

With Fitzgibbon and Tesch top on six points, leading the chase behind the flying Aussies is now Great Britain's Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell who started the day well, but ran in to trouble with their boat, "Unfortunately for race three today, during start sequence we were fine. Gearing up ready. But our gib sheet fell off or snapped or something and we had to retire. It was unfortunate because we had gained some momentum today.”

The momentum they gained was from a bullet and second place which did eventually help move them up the leaderboard as everyone else around them also fell foul in the final race of the day. 

The Britons are in second with 14 points with Canada's John McRoberts and Jackie Gay just behind on 16 points after they scored a 3,4 and a discarded 12th. Current world champions mirrored the Canadians scores with a 3,4,12, but due to an earlier round disqualification they have to carry the double digit score. They have 24 points in fourth.

One Person Keelboat – 2.4 Norlin OD

The one fleet that missed the memo about domination was the 2.4 Norlin OD. Touted as the widest open of the three fleets, the sailors are definitely living up to the tag as six sailors are separated by just six points.

Germany's Heiko Kroeger is one of, if not the most experienced sailor in the fleet, so who better to ask about the changing positions and ever changing leaderboard, "It's tough competition and this race course is very difficult to sail. The competition is very close in the 2.4. There is a lot of sailors who can sail fast and sometimes they might not have that experience in winning medals, but they are still very hard to beat. Although this is a small fleet, it is still a very hard competition.” 

Kroeger has a Paralympic gold medal and multiple world championship titles under his belt, and he is hoping this could give him the edge when push comes to shove and the competition nears its end, "Experience is important.  If you have to think about what you should do, you are already too late.  Things need to be automatic.  So if you have lots of experience your reaction is different and your tactical decision are different and you're able to decide faster. And hopefully the right decisions and this is the difference between experience or not.”

Currently sitting top is the defending Paralympic champion from Great Britain, Helena Lucas. Despite a good first two days of competition she could not carry the consistency through with a 3,4 and a discarded 10th to give her 10 points overall. 

Australia's Matt Bugg was consistent, but only in comparison to the rest of the fleet with a 1,3,5 which moves him to second on the leaderboard with 12 points. 

The big German Kroeger has the same points tally as Bugg but will be disappointed with a second, fifth and discarded 12th. Another world champion, France's Damien Seguin is just one point behind on 13 points. USA's Dee Smith is on 15. On 16 points is Norway's Bjornar Erikstad who started with a bullet but followed up with a respectable fourth and a discarded 11th. 

The fleet fall away after Erikstad with a ten-point gap to Italy's Antonio Squizzato in seventh.

Racing continues at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Sailing Competition on Wednesday 14 September as all fleets are scheduled for three races. The SKUD18 are on the Escola Naval course at 12:00 local time with the 2.4 Norlin OD at 12:10. The Sonars race on the Pao de Acucar (Sugarloaf Mountain) area at 12:00. 

By Richard Aspland - World Sailing

Playing the Rio waiting game

Tuesday September 13, 2016

The unpredictable nature of sailing reared its head in Guanabara Bay on day two of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Sailing Competition as only one race apiece was completed for the Two Person and Three Person Keelboats.  

A wait onshore was all the morning could offer for the expectant sailors as the wind took its time to materialize for suitable racing conditions. Although, there are worse places to wait onshore because in Rio, sailors are surrounded by the stunning backdrop to admire.

With a delayed start, time was not on the Race Committee's side to complete a full schedule, and there were further setbacks when the One Person Keelboat (2.4 Norlin OD) fleet were forced to abandon mid race.

Three Person Keelboat – Sonar

In the only race of the day for the Sonars, the Canadian team, led by Beijing 2008 2.4 gold medallist Paul Tingley, held on for a very tight win after a good start. Only two seconds separated the top three on the Pao de Acucar (Sugarloaf Mountain) race area.

Australia's Colin Harrison, Russell Boaden and Jonathan Harris remain top of the leaderboard on eight points with a fifth placed finish to add to their impressive first day. Day two, however, belonged to Canada's Tingley, Logan Campbell and Scott Lutes who move up to second place on 11 points with the only bullet on offer. 

Waiting for the wind is not uncommon in sailing and sailors have their own way of dealing with the wait.  For Canadian helm Tingley, he seemed to be enjoying the onshore facilities available to him before the Race Committee sent the fleet afloat, "It was a hot day at 37 degrees with the wind from the north. We were postponed so we were getting some cool A/C in the lounge. Then they decided to send us out as the wind was not going to change from the north, a direction which is very uncommon, so no sea breeze.”

Despite moving out of the comfort of the cool air, the early movement to the water from Tingley and crew paid dividends, "We were first onto the water and started to do our homework which helped us get a jump on the competition. The wind was a little right and then a little left, but we managed to get the first right shift to lead the race. Towards the end of race it flipped to the right and we had to change our game plan. With a couple of gybes towards the finish we came out on top by a nose.”

Whether or not it's the race win talking, Tingley seems to be enjoying what the first South American Games has to offer, "We love Rio so far. It's very variable, light winds and currents, you need to be always changing gears. I really like that 'thinking' type of racing. It's not just a one-way simple track, you must play the shifts and play snakes and ladders.”

Falling behind from the start, Norway's Aleksander Wang-Hansen, Marie Solberg and Per Eugen Kristiansen rounded the first mark in seventh overall, but the London 2012 bronze medallists are made of sterner stuff. 

They pulled the race back in to their grasp to take the lead and were arguably favourites to push on for the win, but their progress was halted by a gybe which let their rivals back in. They lost out to Canada by just one second and sit sixth overall on 17 points.

Wang-Hansen explained the Norwegians day through his eyes, "It was a shifty, patchy, gusty day. Really tricky. We had a great start, but things didn't roll our way on the first upwind. But then we caught up a lot on the next two legs to be leading into the finish. We were certain that we were first, but we see now on the results that Canada just beat us.”

Just one second off Norway in the single race of the day were Vasilis Christoforou, Anargyros Notaroglou and Thodoris Alexas (GRE) who not only got third in the race, but mirror that on the leaderboard where they sit on 12 points.

A story possibly developing in the Sonar fleet is the 'curse' of the world champions. France (twice), Great Britain and USA are all world champions in the quad, but relatively slow starts on day one, backed up with mid to low placed finishes on day two means the highest positioned world champions are Alphonsus Doerr, Hugh Freund and Bradley Kendell (USA) in seventh overall. But a World Championship title isn't won by giving up or taking the bad to heart, so watch out in the next few race days for possible leaderboard climbers.

Two Person Keelboat – SKUD18

London 2012 gold medallists, Australia's Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch, just seem to be in the mood for another SKUD18 Paralympic gold medal. It was another dominant performance by the pair as they led at every mark to take the bullet on the Escola Naval race course. 

The win today, and the great start on day one, has not gone unnoticed by the fleet, especially Canada's Jackie Gay, "They looked so fast and sleak today. They just had some wheels underneath them. They didn't really have anyone to fight. They were just out there in front. They came off the line with wheels. Dan [Fitzgibbon] is a really smart sailor and made some good decisions and just extended.” 

Being out in front, it looks like the Aussies are the team to beat, but can they be beaten? Gay certainly thinks, knows so, "Nobody is unbeatable. We beat them [in race two],” laughed Gay, "but they are looking very good, there is no question about that.”

Concentrating on her own day with partner John McRoberts, Gay said, "Well it was tricky, obviously light and lots of current. It was heads out the boat and keep an eye of what's going on and try and sail as fast as you can.

"We had a decent start about half way down the line so we were okay, but then the wind went a little bit to the right so the Polish gained on the inside of us.” 

Poland's Monika Gibes and Piotr Cichocki continued to push once they passed Gay and McRoberts to finish in second, a position that will help them up the leaderboard as a protest late on day one wiped off a third from their overall score. 

With Australia blazing a trail in front, and Poland in second, it was down to the Canadians to hold off the rest of the fleet. It wasn't easy, but it was fun as Gay explains, "We had a little scrap with the Brits on the way down and that was fun. We won the scrap, coming in third. It was really fun racing.”

Fitzgibbon and Tesch sit in first on four points after three races. McRoberts and Gay are in second with nine points, while the team they did battle with, Great Britain's Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell, are third with 11 points.

One Person Keelboat – 2.4 Norlin OD 

Although racing began on the Escola Naval course for the 2.4 Norlin OD, the race was abandoned due to the first mark time limit not being met. 

Giving his thoughts for the day, France's Damien Seguin explained, "No racing today for us. The first upwind was too long. 25 minutes was just too long for us to reach the first mark so we abandoned.”

The 25 minutes Seguin refers to is the time limit in which the boats need to reach the first mark, a time limit which the conditions just wouldn't allow today, no matter how much they tried. 

With a wait onshore for all the sailors, Seguin explains what goes through their heads as the time ticks on, "It is difficult. Especially today. It was very hot outside so we just have to keep calm and focus. But this is our job you know, we get used to it.” 

With no racing, the day one leader board remains unchanged with Great Britain's Helena Lucas on top with three points, Germany's Heiko Kroeger second on five with Dee Smith (USA) in third and Matt Bugg (AUS) fourth on eight points. 

Briton Lucas will be the most relieved sailor heading back in after the abandonment as she was looking to be heading backwards down the field. Now she will get a chance to put that right when racing continues tomorrow.

Sailing will continue at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Sailing Competition on Wednesday 14 September with three races scheduled at the earlier time of 12:00 local time to catch up on the missed races from day two.

By Richard Aspland - World Sailing

Champions conquer on sun soaked opening day

Monday 12th September, 2016

In the build-up to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Sailing Competition the sky has been a dull shade of grey, but the minute the first day of racing started, the stereotypical Rio de Janeiro sunshine came out with a 10 knot wind to boot. It was a glorious opening session of sailing.

And it wasn't just the elements that delivered either as current Paralympic champions continued where they left off from London 2012, leading their respective fleets. Great Britain's Helena Lucas in the 2.4 Norlin OD, Australia in the SKUD18 and with the previous gold medallists absent, it was the Australian team who looked to fill the void early on in the Sonar. 

The day began with a moment of reflection as Technical Delegate David Staley led a moment of silence for Ian Harrison MBE who passed away in late August, and quite fittingly a Memorial Service was held in his Great British home county on the same day as the Paralympic sailing begun.

A pioneer of disabled sailing, Harrison was key to the sport being accepted as a Paralympic medal sport in 2000 and was also the Technical Delegate for that first Paralympic Sailing Competition in Sydney.

One Person Keelboat – 2.4 Norlin OD 

In the hotly contested 2.4 Norlin OD class the pre-Games favourites all justified their tags with a bunched top six, but it is current Paralympic champion, Great Britain's Helena Lucas, who has edged in front with an impressive first race win and second placed finish on the Pao de Acucar (Sugarloaf Mountain) race area to end the day on three points. 

Obviously happy with the start, which may have been worrying the Briton, Lucas commented, "It's always good to have a good start you know. In the few regattas leading up to this I've not had a very good start then you're always playing catch up the rest of the week. So you know it's great because it gives you a good confidence boost and a good platform to carry on the rest of the week.”

Relief then turned to talk of some Rio fun and games, "It was tricky, especially the second race. The first race was a little bit easier for me because I managed to get my nose out in front from the word go and had a little bit more breathing space. But the second race was an absolute fight,” expressed Lucas. 

"I think there was six of us just fighting like crazy for second place. It was snakes and ladders the whole time. Luckily I finished on a ladder not a snake. It was really close racing.” 

In the 'easier' first race Lucas led at every mark followed closely behind by world champion, Germany's Heiko Kroeger, who seemed to be one step behind the Briton all day. Even when Lucas finished in second in race two the big German came home in third. Kroeger does however sit in second overall on five points for his opening day efforts. 

Taking the second bullet of the day was USA's Dee Smith. Smith made up for a disappointing seventh place in race one to take the win as he led the fleet at every mark, leaving everyone else to fight it out behind him. Smith sits in third overall on eight points, but does tie on points with Australia's Matt Bugg who scored a 3,5 for the day.

France's Damien Seguin sits in fifth on the leaderboard with nine points and is just ahead of Norway's Bjornar Erikstad on 11. From there, a small gap has opened up over the rest of the fleet with Italy's Antonio Squizzato the next best on 16 points.

Two Person Keelboat – SKUD18

The champions continued to reign as Australia's Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch lead the SKUD18 fleet. Sailing on the Pao de Acucar (Sugarloaf Mountain) race area they took a bullet and a second place to sit top of the leaderboard on three points.

Race one was a statement of intent from the Paralympic champions as they led at every mark. They narrowly missed out on a perfect day due to a determined Canadian team of John McRoberts and Jackie Gay who kept the Aussies at bay in race two to take the win by just four seconds ahead of their rivals.

Despite the good start, the first thing Fitzgibbon talked about was the opening day weather, "First day and we couldn't do much better with the weather, it was really warm, good winds and finally got everything out of the way and were racing.”

Racing has definitely begun for the London 2012 champions, and that title could put more pressure on the team to perform, but Fitzgibbon would disagree, "I don't think we have pressure on us but if we sail well we know we will be competitive so what happens, happens and we are just happy to be out here. We're just going to just give it a go and put pressure on and see who can handle it.”

For partner Tesch, she looked at pressure in a different way and is maybe throwing a few mind games in to the mix, "I think we tactically threw the [2016] world championships so that we wouldn't feel the pressure, so we were comfy as ever coming in here.”

Even with a regatta to concentrate on, it is sometimes hard to forget exactly where the Games is taking place, and it certainly evokes some emotion in Tesch, "The most exciting thing is having to tell Dan where the boats are when we are in certain positions and turning around and saying 'They're just under the Sugarloaf' or 'they're just under Christ' that's quite exciting.”

Among the excitement, it is McRoberts and Gay who sit in second on the leaderboard with six points as they finished fifth in the opening bout to complement their bullet. Equal on points are the current world champions, Poland's Monika Gibes and Piotr Cichocki.

The Polish team took their first world title in the lead up to Rio 2016 with a very consistent scoreline in Medemblik, the Netherlands. With two third place finishes it looks like more of the same, but with Fitzgibbon and Tesch coming out of the blocks hard early on, the Polish team will need to take some bullets to keep up their hunt for Paralympic gold.

Rounding out the top five from day one are Marco Gualandris and Marta Zanetti (ITA) in fourth on seven points and Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell (GBR) in fifth on eight points. The day could have actually been a lot worse for the British team but they did well to drag themselves up the fleet in race two after taking some penalty turns to keep themselves in contention in the overall competition.

Three Person Keelboat – Sonar

With compatriot Matt Bugg going well in the 2.4 Norlin OD and the SKUD18 team leading the way in their fleet, it was down to Colin Harrison, Russell Boaden and Jonathan Harris to carry the baton for Australia in the Sonar to end a good day for the land down under.

The Australians led at every mark on the Escola Naval race area in race one to take the bullet and followed it up with a second place to sit on top of the leaderboard with three points.

Explaining the key to success for his team, Harrison said, "It was about getting a clear lane early, focusing on boat speed and then just working the shifts. It wasn't tough in that they were huge shifts but there was enough pressure and you had to be on the right side of it.”

Even with the good start, Harrison knows the battle for gold won't be an easy one with top competition to deal with as well as difficult race areas, "It's very challenging racing in Rio, out of all the venues we have sailed around the world in the Sailing World Cup series, Rio is the most challenging.”

Recovering from an eighth place in race one, Trans-Tasman neighbours, New Zealand's Richard Dodson, Andrew May and Chris Sharp, came back with a bullet in race two to move up to second overall on nine points.

New Zealand may be the second name on the leaderboard, but they sit on the same points as Vasilis Christoforou, Anargyros Notaroglou and Thodoris Alexas (GRE) who scored a 3,6 and Lasse Klötzing, Siegmund Mainka and Jens Kroker (GER) who scored a 4,5.

World champions, USA's Alphonsus Doerr, Hugh Freund and Bradley Kendell have ten points which leaves them in sixth overall while Canada's Paul Tingley, Logan Campbell and Scott Lutes are above them in fifth on the same points tally.

Racing continues on Tuesday 13 September with two races scheduled for all fleets. There will be a switch in the race areas as the 2.4 Norlin OD and SKUD18 race on the Escola Naval area and Sonar's move to the Pao de Acucar (Sugarloaf Mountain) race area.

By Richard Aspland - World Sailing

The Rio 2016 Paralympic Sailing Competition features 60 athletes from 23 nations, in 41 boats racing across three Paralympic disciplines. Racing runs from Monday 12 September through to Saturday 17 September 2016 with 65 male and 15 female sailors racing out of Marina da Gloria in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Sailing made its Paralympic debut at Sydney 2000 having previously been a demonstration sport at Atlanta 1996. 

Reports by Richard Aspland - World Sailing - Photos by Richard Langdon/World Sailing