Published: Monday, 26 October 2015

The 2015 Para World Sailing Championships is set to welcome 140 sailors from 29 nations in Melbourne, Australia (Nov 24-Dec 3).

29 Nations Set For Para World Sailing Championships

Racing out of the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria in Williamstown, a suburb of Melbourne, competitors will be gunning for the final Rio 2016 Paralympic Sailing Competition.

The 2.4mR will be the biggest fleet in Melbourne with 45 entries while the two-person keelboat, the SKUD18, and the three-person keelboat, the Sonar, have 19 entries each. In total, 140 sailors and 70 coaches will be in Melbourne with eyes focused on taking gold and a place on the Rio 2016 startline.

"By my reckoning we have one more country to enter and that will give us 30 countries, a fabulous result and commitment from all countries and sailors and coaches to such a prestigious event in the sailing calendar,” says Organising Committee chair Michael McLean. “It is after all the second and final country qualifier for the Rio Paralympics.”

In total, 35 athletes will book their spot at Rio 2016 in Melbourne. Seven spots in the 2.4mR, five in the SKUD18 and six in the Sonar will be up for grabs.

"We don't run these events very often,” says McLean. "So I would encourage all the members of the RYVC, the local population, sailing community and the world of Paralympic sport to get excited by this event, I certainly am. You would really struggle to find a more professional group of sailors and coaches dedicated to representing their countries at the highest level. This will be some of the best sailing you are ever able to witness.”

London 2012 Paralympic gold medallists Helena Lucas (GBR) in the 2.4mR and Dan Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch (AUS) in the SKUD18 will be among the stellar cast on show in Melbourne.

29 Nations Set For Para World Sailing Championships 2

(Photo: Australian Sailing Team Paralympic Sailors)

Other London 2012 medallists making the trip include 2.4mR silver medallist Heiko Kroger (GER) and SKUD18 bronze medallists Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell (GBR). Silver and bronze medallists in the Sonar, Jens Kroker, Siegmund Mainka and Robert Prem (GER) and Aleksander Wang-Hansen, Marie Solberg and Per Eugen Kristiansen (NOR) will also be on the start line.

Away from the elite competitors at the front of the fleet the fight will be on for the remaining Rio 2016 spots after the 2014 Championship saw the first 50% of spots snapped up.

At the end of August 2015, 10 sailors from six nations attended the first Paralympic Development Program (PDP) clinic in Weymouth and Portland, Great Britain. Thanks to the PDP sailors from Czech Republic, Estonia, Hong Kong and Portugal are expected to compete in Melbourne.

Ahead of the Melbourne Para Worlds, a second PDP will be taking place where sailors will benefit from on-water expertise, sailing in the Paralympic one-person keelboat, the 2.4mR, as well as daily onshore briefings.