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IFDS WORLD DISABLED SAILING CHAMPIONSHIPS

Germany’s 2000 2.4 Metre Paralympic Gold Medallist clinches the title

Canada’s Mackie and MacDonald take 15-boat title

samedi 10 novembre 2001

After five days of sailing in challenging conditions, competitors and officials alike judged the 2001 International Foundation of Disabled Sailing (IFDS) World Disabled Sailing Championships a resounding success. The championship, held in Florida from October 24-31, was co-hosted by St. Petersburg Yacht Club and Sailing Alternatives (a disabled sailing program based in Sarasota and St. Petersburg). Representing nine countries, the 62 competitors encountered conditions on Tampa Bay that were considered tougher than those found a year ago in Sydney, Australia, during the 2000 Paralympic Games.

image 300 x 158USA’s Tom Brown leading Germany’s Kroger downwind. Photo : Regatta Photo

"A few years ago, the athletes would not have gone out in these conditions," remarked event chair Serge Jorgensen (Sarasota, Fla.), adding that the level of competition for disabled sailors has risen dramatically since Paralympic Sailing was introduced as a demonstration event at the ’96 Olympics. Throughout the week sailors encountered 2-4 foot waves and near-constant 15-knot winds. Heavier teams that could transfer from side-to-side while tacking enjoyed an advantage over teams with more limited mobility in the three-person Sonar. Meanwhile, those in the singlehanded 2.4 Metres almost disappeared between the waves. Disabled sailors compete under a classification system, refined since the Paralympics, which awards each Sonar team a rating designed to equalize physical abilities among the teams. 2.4 Metre sailors compete as equals without ratings. Along with the championship title, the winners (skipper and crew) in each class were presented with a specially engraved Rolex Submariner timepiece courtesy of event sponsor Rolex Watch U.S.A.

USA’s Brown Wins Silver Medal

In the 14-boat 2.4 Metre class, Tom Brown (Northeast Harbor, Maine), the 2000 Paralympic 2.4 Metre Bronze Medallist, sailed a consistent event to claim the silver medal despite being disqualified from the final race. Brown could not overcome the flawless performance of Heiko Kroger, Germany’s 2000 2.4 Metre Paralympic Gold Medallist, who won all nine races of the series to clinch the championship title. Norway‚s Jostein Stordahl won the bronze, while U.S. sailors John Ruf (Pewaukee, Wis.), Tom Franklin (Miami, Fla.), and Roger Cleworth (Brandon, Fla.) finished 8th, 11th and 13th, respectively.

In the 15-boat Sonar class, the three podium positions were claimed by veterans of the 2000 Paralympics. Canada’s Brian Mackie and Brian MacDonald, the 2000 Sonar Paralympic Bronze Medallists, sailing with new crew Paul Tingley ; claimed the championship title after eight races with an unbeatable lead and were able to sit out the final race of the series. Andy Cassell and Brian Harding, 2000 Paralympians from Great Britain, joined by Edward Suckling, won the silver medal, with the bronze going to Germany‚s Jens Kroker and Peter Reichl, the 2000 Sonar Paralympic Silver Medallists, sailing here with Dietmar Steigel. Finishing seventh overall, Rick Doerr (Clifton, N.J.) with Tim Angle and Maureen McKinnon-Tucker (both Marblehead, Mass.) were the top-finishing American team, followed by 1998 World Disabled Sailing Gold Medallist John Ross-Duggan (Newport Beach, Calif.), with J.P. Creignou (St. Petersburg, Fla.) and Larry Kutno (Seffner, Fla.) in eighth place. Paul Callahan (Palm Beach, Fla. and Providence, R.I.) and Keith Burhans (Irondequoit, N.Y.), the USA‚s 2000 Sonar Paralympians, racing with new crew Mike Hagmaier (Northfield, N.J.), dropped from their seventh-place position at the regatta‚s midpoint to finish 11th overall after Burhans suffered a back injury. Kerry Gruson (Miami, Fla.) with Edward Piper (Salinas, Calif.) and Mark Evju (Santa Rosa, Calif.) finished 13th overall, followed by Mike Strahle (McCloud, Calif.) with Vic Leanza (Euclid, Ohio) and Chris Everson (Orangeville, Calif.) in 14th place, and Karen Mitchell (Deerfield Beach, Fla.) with Nancy Graver (Lemont, Ill.) and Michael Witkowsky (Derby, Conn.) in 15th place.

Complete results and photos are available online at : www.spyc.org/World/Championships.htm



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