Champions Decided For 2016 Para World Sailing
Published: Thursday, 02 June 2016
The 2016 Para World Sailing Championships Delta Lloyd Regatta wrapped up in Medemblik, the Netherlands (May 21-28).
(Photos: World Sailing)
Norway's Aleksander Wang-Hansen, Marie Solberg and Per Kristiansen took a bullet in the first race of the day to bunch the top four together, only separated by six points going in to the final race. The battle was on.
(USA's Alphonsus Doerr, Bradley Kendell and Hugh Freund)
The final race started with USA on top, but they fell behind early and were down on the predictive rankings. Australia and Great Britain moved ahead and they changed top position on the predictive. Throw in Norway who moved up the fleet. Then USA came back. The top four on the leader board were the top four on the course fighting it out.
Great Britain's John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas took the bullet, but only just from Australia's Colin Harrison, Jonathan Harris and Russell Boaden. USA's Alphonsus Doerr, Bradley Kendell and Hugh Freund made it to become world champions.
"The last race of the day, last race of the regatta, we knew who we had to cover and we were happy with our start, we knew where they were. The first shift we actually didn't sail to the right side that we wanted to and we had to fight our way back, but we did that,” says Kendall. "This world championship was a very tight regatta. The world's best were here and we are so happy with what we have done and where we are at right now.”
With the final bullet of the championships, John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas took the silver medal on 27 points with Colin Harrison, Jonathan Harris and Russell Boaden taking the bronze on 28.
2.4 Norlin OD
Germany's Heiko Kroeger claimed the victory as the 2.4 Norlin OD world champion.
(Germany's Heiko Kroeger)
Despite taking a bullet in the first race to increase his lead at the top, he had to deal with a coming together with another competitor which dropped him back in to tactical mode searching for his closest rivals. "I had a crash with Dee Smith (USA) rounding the second mark and I had to do a 720 and that dropped me to around fifth. But it was ok as Matt [Bugg] was a few places behind me and Damien [Seguin] wasn't too far ahead,” says Kroeger.
Kroeger dropped back further still, but even though he crossed the final finish line in 11th position, he crossed it as the world champion with a five-point lead over former champion Damien Seguin (FRA). Kroeger regains the 2.4 Norlin OD world title he won in 2014.
"It was tough racing here. I had some good races and some not so good races which made it tight but I'm really happy I worked it out and it's great to win,” said Kroeger. "I guess it's good to go Rio as world champion and not fourth or fifth.”
Seguin had a disappointing eighth in the first race but followed that with a second. Australia's Matt Bugg had a third and a discarded 14th. He beat the current Paralympic champion Helena Lucas (GBR) to keep the bronze medal.
Kroeger wins the gold medal with 32 points, Seguin takes silver with 37 points and Matt Bugg finishes the championship with a bronze medal on 42 points. Taking the final bullet of the championship was Italy's Antonio Squizzato.
Poland's Monika Gibes and Piotr Cichocki sealed the win with 18 points.
(Poland's Monika Gibes and Piotr Cichocki)
The pair were quiet all week when they were asked about their chances, but once they came ashore as gold medallists they were quiet for another reason, they simply had no words.
"I cannot believe we won. I really cannot believe it. I feel so excited that we won the world championship,” Gibes says. Her teammate Cichocki was filled with emotion. "My heart is double now. It's an unbelievable feeling. I am so proud,” he said.
In the fight for medals, Great Britain's Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell took the silver medal following a lengthy protest hearing that involved their medal rivals, former world champions, Australia's Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch.
After a protest from the first race of the day the Australian pair had one wiped off which promoted the Britons into first place in that race and in turn cemented the silver medal for Rickham and Birrell.
The other prize on offer was Rio 2016 Paralympic selection. Fitzgibbon and Tesch will have done their selection chances no harm by taking home a bronze medal from the championships with their selection rivals Amethyst Barnbrook and Brett Pearce finishing in sixth overall.
USA selection was also on offer in Medemblik. Sarah Skeels and Cindy Walker finished in 10th and Ryan Porteous and Maureen Mckinnon-Tucker finished in 11th. The selection process took in to account this Para World Sailing Championships and last year's in Melbourne, Australia and with close finishes in both regattas the selection is a tight one to call for a place at Rio 2016.
In the final big regatta for the three Paralympic classes before the Rio 2016 Sailing Competition new champions were crowned and go in to the summer showpiece on top of the class. With a tight field and top class athletes in Medemblik, the Netherlands it was a great advertisement of what is set to come from the first South American Games in September.