Daily Yacht Boat News

Paralympic sailors test Rio waters

One year out from the largest event in the Paralympic sporting world, the Australian Sailing Team’s (AST) Paralympic sailors have started to arrive in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to test the waters on Guanabara Bay, which will host the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games from seven – eighteen September 2016.

During the training camp in Rio, Australia’s three Paralympic crews of London 2012 Paralympic Skud-18 champions Daniel Fitzgibbon (NSW) and Liesl Tesch (NSW), the Sonar team of Colin Harrison (WA), Jonathan Harris (NSW) and Russell Boaden (WA) as well as 2.4mR sailor Matt Bugg (TAS) will test the Rio waters over the next two and a half weeks.

The camp will see some of the main international Paralympic Sailing teams come together in Rio to train alongside each other. The venue and the two main race areas will be tested during this time including some informal racing with the international teams who will be there (Coach’s Regatta).

Australian Sailing Team’s Paralympic crews arrive in Rio at the back of the Aquece Rio – 2015 International Sailing Regatta, the Olympic Test Event, which concluded on August 22nd with Australia taking home two gold and one bronze medal.

It will be the first time in Rio for the Paralympic class sailors and the visit will offer the team the opportunity to test the waters as well as get accustomed to country and Rio environment.

With one year out from the Paralympic Games the Australian Sailing Team is looking strong after multiple top podium finishes across the international season and ahead of the 2015 season highlight, the 2015 Para Sailing World Championship, following on home waters in Melbourne in November.

Two-Person Keelboat – SKUD-18

Paralympic gold medallist and 2014 World Champions Daniel Fitzgibbon (NSW) and Liesl Tesch (NSW) have presented themselves in top form this season with the pair winning both World Cup regattas in Melbourne in December and Miami at the end of January as well as the Delta Lloyd Regatta in the Netherlands in May.

The Rio camp will be an important step forward towards the pair’s Rio 2016 preparations and will lead into a busy racing season ahead:

“Our Rio camp will be very interesting giving us a great opportunity to test the conditions in Rio. It is a vital cog in our games preparation. The training there will lead straight into more training at home before our World Championships in Melbourne during November, so busy days,” Daniel Fitzgibbon said.

While Dan Fitzgibbon will be arriving in Rio on Monday, Liesl Tesch will follow at the end of the week and the four-time Paralympian is excited to get there:

“I am super-excited about going to Rio and can’t wait for our camp. It’s been great seeing all the pictures and footage of the Olympic guys over there at the test event!

Dan and I have been doing some good local training, both on our own and with our training partners and team rivals Ame Barnbrook (NSW) and Brett Pearce (NSW). We are still at a good ‘building’ stage and working on doing things correctly every time,” Liesl Tesch said.

We’ll be making the most of our time together in Rio and when we return it will be pretty ‘full-on’ training for the World Champs in Melbourne! Straight after we’ll be going into the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Melbourne, which is one of our favourite waterways in the world, which will be another great positive step in our Paralympic preparation.”

One-Person Keelboat – 2.4mR

Paralympian Matt Bugg finished fifth in the 2.4mR at last year’s IFDS World Championships and has continuously worked his way up the ranks over the international competitions this season.

At the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Hyères Matt Bugg won a silver medal and went on to win bronze at the Delta Lloyd Regatta making it his best European season so far.

Also for Matt Bugg it will be the first time in Rio with the camp being an essential part in his 2016 preparation.

“I’m really looking forward to see Rio for the first time. I’m expecting to do lots of sailing and get a good idea of what the race courses are going to be like, as well as seeing what living in Rio is all about,” Matt Bugg said about his expectations.

“I’m happy with where I am in my preparation for the Rio games next year and with a year to go most of the technical development has been done and it’s now all about the racing and the venue.”

Bugg will also continue on to the World Championship in November as well as the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Melbourne in December, before competing at the 2.4 Open World Championships in his hometown Hobart.

Three-Person keelboat – Sonar

2014 World Championship bronze medallist Colin Harrison (WA), Russell Boaden (WA) and Jonathan Harris (NSW) qualified the Sonar last year and have continuously finished on the podium since then.

The team took home the silver medal at the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Hyères in April and gold at the Delta Lloyd Regatta in May. They were the only Australian Paralympic boat to compete at the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Weymouth in June, where they came away with a win.

Weymouth was a return to the London 2012 Paralympic venue for Colin Harrison and Jonathan Harris who had some unfinished business there after missing out on the podium in 2012. But after a rebuild of the crew with 2008 Paralympian Russell Boaden back on the team, they are in strong form and are looking forward to Rio.

“We’ve heard so much about Rio and the wait is finally over and the Sonar team is finally going to be testing the waters, literally. It is absolutely perfect timing for us, having won two gold and a silver on the European circuit this year, so things are coming together nicely at the right time,” Jonathan Harris said.

“This will be an ‘unofficial’ Rio test event for the para classes, so we are anticipating some great racing against our main competitors for next year’s games.

Of course we are well aware Rio has complex wind, weather and tide aspects. So it will be like starting over, new learning and we anticipate a whole lot of new challenges, which will make it interesting and fun.”

Rio will be the start of a series of major international events for the crew as Jonathan Harris explains:

“We’ll return to Australia at the end of September to immediately start training and campaigning for the IFDS worlds in Melbourne, and then on to Sail Melbourne, take a deep breath over Christmas, then we’ll be back to Rio a second time and onto Miami for the ISAF World Cup in January.”

The Rio camp will be followed by the 2015 highlight for the Australian Sailing’s Paralympic sailors with the Para Sailing World Championships – IFDS World Championships taking place on home waters at the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria at the end of November (Twenty-six November – Three December LINK). The ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne follows from Seven – Thirteen December in St. Kilda, Melbourne.

Australian Sailing Team – Paralympic Classes in Rio

One-Person Keelboat – 2.4mR

– Matt Bugg (TAS/TIS) – AST

Athlete Profile:
Matt Bugg

Coach: Richard Scarr

Two-Person Keelboat – SKUD-18

– Daniel Fitzgibbon (NSW) and Liesl Tesch (NSW) – AST

Athlete Profiles:
• Daniel Fitzgibbon
• Liesl Tesch

Coach: Geoff Woolley

Three-Person keelboat – Sonar

– Colin Harrison (WA/WAIS) and Jonathan Harris (NSW) and Russell Boaden (WA/WAIS)

Athlete Profiles:
• Colin Harrison
• Jonathan Harris
• Russell Boaden

Coach: Grant Alderson

For more information on the Australian Sailing Paralympic Team visit australiansailingteam.com.au

by Cora Zillich

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