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Excellent Paralympic fleet for 2011 Sail Auckland

Thursday 2 December 2010, 10:48AM

By Yachting New Zealand

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AUCKLAND

Sail Auckland 2011 is shaping up to gather the best fleet of Paralympic sailors ever to be seen in New Zealand with a number of international sailors entered and planning to attend the February regatta and line up against New Zealand’s local Paralympic sailors.

Sailing for the 2.4 Metre and SKUD18 Paralympic classes will be staged on the Waitemata Harbour with these sailors launching and retrieving their boats at Westhaven Marina. Racing for these classes starts on February 4th and runs for three days with final races and prize-giving planned for Sunday February 6th on the beach at Takapuna along with the Olympic classes.

Takapuna Boating Club is host to Sail Auckland Regatta for the first time in 2011, and they will provide the Race Management both on and off the water for all classes including the Paralympic events.

Prominent New Zealand Paralympic class sailors include Joshua McKenzie-Brown from Auckland and Andrew May from Christchurch in the 2.4 Metre class plus Tim Dempsey and Jan Apel sailing together in the SKUD18.

McKenzie-Brown as well as Dempsey and Apel travelled to the Netherlands in July to compete in the IFDS Disabled Sailing World Championships in July this year, where the SKUD18 crew earned national qualification for the 2012 Paralympic Games for New Zealand.

Image: Tim Dempsey and Jan Apel at the 2010 IFDS World Champs

These sailors and other kiwi entrants are already training hard in preparation for Sail Auckland 2011 in anticipation of some stiff competition from international rivals. 

Top British 2.4 Metre sailor Megan Pascoe, who placed third at this year’s World Championship, will be in Auckland for Sail Auckland Regatta. Three international crews are confirmed in the SKUD18 class with two entries coming from Australia and one from Singapore. 

The SKUD18 sailors will be in Napier, New Zealand for the Kiwi Cup Regatta, also featuring another access class – the Liberty - in January ahead of Sail Auckland Regatta.

Following on from Sail Auckland Regatta in February most competing local and international Paralympic sailors have accepted an invitation to join a training camp with coaches Rob Hielkema and Charles Baillie-Strong. 

About Paralympic Sailing (www.paralympics.org.nz/sailing.htm)

The Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games introduced Sailing as a demonstration sport, leading to its acceptance as a full medal sport at the Sydney 2000 Paralympics. This sport is open to athletes with an amputation, cerebral palsy, blindness/visual impairment, spinal injuries and les autres. The objective in sailing is to navigate a set course in a faster time than your opponents.

Athletes compete in three events: The Single-Person and Three-Person Keelboats are open to most disability groups, while the Two-Person Keelboat event is specifically designed for athletes with a severe disability. Each competitor is graded according to their condition and mobility with grade 1 applied to a sailor more seriously disabled through to a grade 7 being the least disabled.

Two-person Keelboat: The SKUD 18 (www.skud.org)

The SKUD18 is the result of collaboration between Access Sailing’s Chris Mitchell and B&B Technology and Innovation - Julian Bethwaite and Martin Billoch. By combining Mitchell's unique understanding and ideology of sailing for people with disabilities with 20 years of Bethwaite's high performance skiff experience, the result is the innovative 'lead assisted skiff' (LAS), the SKUD18.

The SKUD18 must be sailed by a mixed gender crew and encourages the participation of more severely disabled sailors by requiring a person of grade 1 or grade 2 disability to helm the boat.

Single-person Keelboat: The 2.4 Metre (www.inter24metre.org)

The 2.4 Metre originated from Stockholm in 1983 by local yacht designers who used the "R Metre" rule to create a single-handed keelboat the 2.4mR.  Since the 2.4mR is so well suited for sailors with physical disabilities, it was first selected as the single-handed class at the Paralympics in Sydney 2000.
 
The 2.4 Metre is sailed by both men and women and is open to all grades of disability.

About Sail Auckland

Sail Auckland Regatta Inc has run New Zealand’s premier Olympic class event since it was established in 1996 to host and run the International Olympic and Invited Classes Regatta with the goal of promoting Olympic Class racing in New Zealand.

Attracting international sailors to compete in New Zealand, Sail Auckland gives our aspiring Olympic and Paralympics sailors the opportunity to compete locally without the expense of travelling overseas for essential international competition.

Sail Auckland’s main objective is to foster and promote Olympic Class sailing and assist our Olympic sailors achieve medals at the Olympic Games and World Championship level. The regatta was granted ISAF Grade 1 status five years ago.