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With less than two months until the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, Paralympics New Zealand and Yachting New Zealand are delighted to announce the selection of three sailors to the NZ Paralympic Sailing Team.
Tim Dempsey and Jan Apel will sail together in the Two Person Keelboat event (SKUD 18) and Paul Francis will sail in the One Person Keelboat event (2.4mR).
For all three sailors, this will be their first time at the Paralympic Games. This is the first time since Sydney 2000 that New Zealand Sailors have attended the Paralympic Games, and never before has a female been on the team until now.
“It’s a real honour to be representing New Zealand at the Paralympic Games in Sailing” Paul Francis said. “To be surrounded by so many inspirational athletes is really great. The Sailing Team is looking forward to rewarding the selectors and providing a platform for the future”.
Paul Francis’ first major regatta victory was the the P Class Tauranga Cup in 1974 before he went on to represent NZ at the 1977 ISAF Youth Worlds in the catamaran. He has always been competitive in the sport, sailing the 470 when it was one of the strongest classes in NZ, and he went on to compete at 11 Sailing World Championships including the Tornado, Flying Dutchman and others. Paul started sailing the 2.4mR Paralympic class yacht in 2010 and has produced a string of good results in the extremely competitive fleet.
Tim Dempsey and Jan Apel joined forces just three months prior to the IFDS World Championships in 2010 and since then, they have competed in nearly ten elite international regattas. Particularly rewarding for them was a 2nd finish place at Sail Sydney 2010, and just recently finishing 6th at the Skandia Sail for Gold regatta which was sailed at the Paralympic venue of Weymouth in June 2012.
“To have sailors selected to compete at this pinnacle level of the sport again comes after years of effort from the sailors, coaches and their support networks.” said Robert Hielkema, Yachting New Zealand’s Paralympic Sailing Manager.
“The learning from this process is helping to shape the future for the sport in New Zealand and Yachting New Zealand's programmes too in becoming more inclusive for sailors with a disability.”
The 2012 Paralympic Sailing competition begins just two weeks after the conclusion of the Olympic Games, at the same venue as is the Olympic Sailing, in Weymouth, Dorset. Racing begins on September 1st and will consist of 11 races per class, concluding on September 6th.
A total of 26 athletes will represent NZ at the 2012 Paralympic games in seven sports.