Cold and windy at Day 1 of Para Worlds

by Delta Lloyd Regatta (as amended by IHCA)

The 2016 Delta Lloyd Regatta, incorporating the 2016 Para World Sailing Championships, got off to a cold, windy and bumpy start in Medemblik on Tuesday with the full schedule completed in spite of the adverse conditions.

In the Skud 18 class, 2012 bronze medalists Alexandra Rickham/Nikki Birrell (GBR) are in pole position after a 3, 1. They lead from Monika Gibes/Piotr Cichocki (POL), with the current World Champions, Daniel Fitzgibbon/Liesl Tesch (AUS) in third, after winning the opening race.

Birrell commented, “It’s always nice on the first day to not throw in any absolute shockers – we managed to do that with both our results in the top three, so that was good. It was a very cold day today with a lot of hanging around as the race officer struggled to anchor his committee boat but we managed to stay focussed and get two good results in the end. We seem to be going quite well in the breeze at the moment.”

“As always with me, I like to win. The races were quite tight today, the Poles were leading a couple of them. We had a nice little battle with the Aussies and the Poles in the first one, just got the wrong side of that unfortunately. In the second one there were three boats out clear again but we managed to get the right side of it on the second race which was good.”

There was drama on the water as US favourites Ryan Porteous/Maureen Mckinnon-Tucker (USA) got caught on the committee boat at the finish of the first race and broke their boom. They were unable to finish the race and also unable to sail the second race, coming ashore to find a new boom. They carry maximum points for both races today, not the start they had hoped for and they now have some catching up to do if they are to win the US selection trials, of which the Para Worlds is the final event.

Following the world champion’s lead in the other Paralympic classes, in the SKUD18 it looked like it was going to be a full house as Australia’s 2015 SKUD18 champions, Dan Fitzgibbon and Liesel Tesch (AUS) also took a bullet in the first race. Unfortunately for the Australian’s they couldn’t quite bring it home in the second race of the day only managing a seventh to sit in third overall.

Their loss was Great Britain’s Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell’s gain as they seek to win a sixth world title. A third place in the first race and a bullet in the second leaves them well placed at the top of the leader board at the end of day one.

With a 2,2 for the day to finish in second overall are Poland’s Monika Gibes and Piotr Cichocki. Sandwiched between world champions may be the spur the team need to compete through the week and improve upon the bronze medal they picked up at the last world championships.

Sitting in fourth are Netherlands’ home nation sailors Rolf Schrama and Sandra Nap. Fresh off the boat Schrama said, “It was a very interesting first day, it was exciting. We had two fourth places and it was a good start and I think we can grow in to the competition. We are really satisfied for now.”

Being local to the Medemblik venue, Schrama gave his take on what it is like to have a Para World Sailing Championships in the Netherlands, “It’s great. I love it. First of all it’s only like half an hour drive from my house, but it is good to have everyone from around the world here to compete and see what a great country and sailing venue this is.

“And today was typical weather for Medemblik so everyone got to see what its usually like for us when we train here.”

A link to results is available here.

Photo © Sander van der Borch