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SKUD duo fight back on day four of Sailing Worlds

on 01-12-2015 10:49

Paralympic bronze medallists Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell showed their mettle at the Para World Sailing Championships in Melbourne on Tuesday (1 December), winning the day in the SKUD fleet to consolidate overall second place after a tough start to their regatta. 

John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas also hold on to second in spite of a challenging fourth day of racing, while London 2012 gold medallist Helena Lucas is the leading British sailor in the 2.4mR fleet in fifth overall. 

Rickham and Birrell, five-time World Champions in the two-person Paralympic class, have seen some uncharacteristically high scores among their eight World Championship races so far, having been snagged in weed on Sunday and enduring gear failure on Monday’s third day when Rickham’s electrically power seat failed and they broke a jib. 

Consequently the Australian Paralympic Champions Dan Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch now have an 11 point lead over the British pairing, with two days of competition and three races to go.

But the 34-year-old helm Rickham insisted she and Birrell had plenty of fight left and showed that on the race track on Tuesday with a race win and second amid difficult and rapidly changeable conditions on Port Phillip Bay. 

“We’re just going to try and race as well as we can, try and get as many firsts as we can and show what we can do,” said the Epsom sailor

"Unfortunately a few things have gone against us so now we just need to make sure that we don’t let the Italians get past us and that we race for pride when it comes to the Australians is kind of where we’re at at the moment.”  Alexandra Rickham

“We came here feeling good and we really felt like we had the opportunity to win back the Worlds. Unfortunately a few things have gone against us so now we just need to make sure that we don’t let the Italians get past us and that we race for pride when it comes to the Australians is kind of where we’re at at the moment.”

“Today was a much better day – yesterday was… cataclysmic... that’s the word I would like to use! I spent the whole day hanging upside down in up to 29 knots – pretty much not what you want to do!” described Rickham of Monday’s challenges with her canting seat. 

“Today we got a bullet and a second. We’re actually a bit disappointed because we had the potential to make it double bullets. But obviously we’re pretty happy with where we are now as oppose to yesterday, and the day before actually when we got the 13th from the weed.” 

John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas remain in second overall in the Sonar fleet, in spite of a sixth and a 14th from their two races. Stodel said they suffered on the wrong side of big wind shifts, less than optimal starts and wind holes with conditions quickly changing from five to 20 knots across the race course. 

Craig Wood, Steve Palmer and Liam Cattermole are in 11th in the Sonar fleet, while Helena Lucas, complete with repaired boat after a collision on Monday, improved her overnight position in the 2.4mR fleet by one place to fifth, with two sixth places from Tuesday’s racing. Megan Pascoe is seventh overall, with Will Street in 23rd. 

For full results, visit http://www.topyacht.net.au/results/2015/paraworlds/ 

Racing at the Para World Sailing Championships continues on Wednesday 2 December with a further two fleet races scheduled ahead of one final fleet race on Thursday 3 December. 

For news and British Sailing Team updates visit us at www.britishsailingteam.com  on Facebook or on Twitter @BritishSailing

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