Aussies continue to lead at Paralympics

by World Sailing (as amended by SKUD18)

How do you stop two Australian’s in a boat? Well in the SKUD18 fleet it would seem that no one can answer that question.

London 2012 gold medallists, Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch, have continued to dominate the class and took two more bullets on day four to cement their place at the top of the pack. With a commanding 15-point buffer from the second and third placed Canadian and British teams heading in to the final stages of the competition, it would look like a Paralympic defence is inevitable, barring a complete ‘disaster’ of course.

With the Australian’s on eight points, Canada’s John McRoberts and Jackie Gay and Great Britain’s Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell are continuously falling back and sit on 23 points. And there is a sense of defeat from both teams creeping in.

With a 2,5 for the day, Gay talks about the Aussie chase ahead of her, “Obviously we have three races left, I guess the Australian’s could have a complete disaster. It could happen and it does happen. But we are just looking to maximise our performance and finish off this regatta as we started.”

The race for a medal is still on, even if it isn’t gold, and Gay has a plan in place ready to go – avoid any disqualifications, “Tomorrows plan will be to stay clean. No one wants letters on the scorecard. People want numbers. So race clean is our thing. We never do that engaging thing anyway, we just race our race and do what we do best and sail hopefully.”

Not thinking much further than the next day’s racing, Gay said, “To finish on the podium is just too much to think about at the moment, it would be amazing.”

Equal on points, Birrell talked through his teams 4,5 day, “The racing was great today in Rio, with good courses and good wind. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a great day with not being able to get the boat going fast at all. The next three races are really important now, as it is super close between second, third & fourth now, and no one wants to finish fourth.”

Someone will have to finish in fourth and someone has to take gold, but Birrell is resigned to the fact it will probably not be his team, “I don’t like to be negative and anything can happen, but we put on a lot of points today and the Australian’s went 1,1. I’m a positive person, but I think the gold is gone.

“I’m quite a positive person normally, or deluded normally, but now the gap is far too big. And our biggest concern is to sail well enough tomorrow to grab the Silver.”

The Britons will have to better the Canadian’s scores to take the silver, but both teams will also need to keep one eye on Monika Gibes and Piotr Cichocki (POL) behind them. Sitting in fourth on 29 points, the Polish team took a second and a third to edge ever closer to the podium positions.

Here is a link to a live blog, tracking and results on the World Sailing website.

Photo © Richard Langdon / World Sailing