by World Sailing
An exciting final day in Palermo, Italy, saw medals awarded in all four categories at the 2021 Hansa World Championships. Over 180 sailors from 25 nations showed exceptional technical para sailing and determination in extremely changeable conditions all week.Sailors from seven countries made their international competition debut in Sicily as para sailing continues to go from strength to strength.
Racing was interrupted by rain on the first day but the weather improved throughout the week, leading to an intense weekend of racing.
In the Hansa 303 Single class, Piotr Cichocki (POL) led throughout to seal victory from Cecile Venuat (FRA) and Rory McKinna (GBR) in the overall rankings. Violeta Del Reino (ESP) finished first in the women’s competition – eighth overall – ahead of Olga Górna?-Grudzie? (POL) in second, 13th overall, and Miray Ulas (TUR) in third, 17th overall.
The team of Symonds-Klinger (AUS) claimed victory in the final race, finishing ahead of Górna?-Grudzie?-Cichocki (POL) by just one point in the Hansa 303 Double class. The team of Guyon-Ducruix (FRA) finished third.
In the Hansa Liberty class, Vera Voorbach (NED) won by three points from Gerard Eychenne (FRA), who ended the races ahead of Paul Phillips (GBR) by a single point. It was a Netherlands clean sweep in the Hansa Liberty Servo class. Vera Voorbach finished first ahead of teammate Hanneke Deenen in second and Wilma Van Den Broek in third.
Jan Sefke Holtrop (NED) finished ahead of Cedric Castaldi (FRA) in the Men’s Liberty Servo classification.
Star of the week was Piotr Cichocki (POL) who won four out of five races to finish 10 points ahead of second place in the Hansa 303 Single class and 18 points ahead of third.
“I am very happy with the results obtained by my sailors. Piotr Cichocki won the World Championship in the 303 singles class, Olga Górna?-Grudzie? took 2nd place in the Women’s section in the 303 singles class and, finally, the team of Piotr Cichocki and Olga Górna?-Grudzie? took second place in 303 Double class,” said Grzegorz Protopowicz, Para Sailing coach at the Polish Yachting Association. “We will take three medals to Poland! We also had a great week of training before the competition and now go home happy. We are already waiting for the next challenge.”
Vera Voorbach, winner of the Liberty Class, said, “At the last Worlds in 2018 in Hiroshima I was 3rd, so I hoped that I could be in top 3 again, but I won gold and I’m very happy with this result Although we had to be patient this week with the difficult weather circumstances, we did 5 races. For me it was perfect circumstances, about 3 Beaufort and pretty much wind shifts.”
“Due to my spinal cord injury, I do not have enough power in my arms to steer and pull the sheets manually. Therefore, I have servo equipment in my boat, so I can adjust my rudder and sheets electronically with a joystick. To handle my boat this way is more difficult than doing everything manually. I can’t feel pressure on my rudder or sheets this way. But I did it! It is the first time that a sailor who handles the boat with servo equipment has won the World Championship!”
Massimo Dighe, Para World Sailing Manager, said, “This was an excellent exhibition of para sailing in single and double competition. We commend the Hansa class for creating a boat for all sailors and promoting inclusion within the class. The growth of para sailing around the world is great for the future of the sport. Congratulations to the winners, and everybody for being able to take part in the Championships – especially those making their debut. We look forward to seeing more sailors competing at tournaments around the world in the coming months.”
Prior to the 2021 Hansa World Championships, World Sailing supported sailors from Brazil, Chile, Czech Republic, Estonia, Ireland, Lithuania and the Philippines with travel costs, accommodation and providing boats as part of the Para Sailing Development Program (PDP). The teams also received coaching support as World Sailing aims to increase worldwide participation and expand the competition.
More than 32 nations participate internationally each year at various World Championships. By 2023, World Sailing aims to have 45 nations from six continents participating in all levels of Para sailing and inclusive events.