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13 April 2012, 09:04 am
Champions Crowned At Macquarie 2012 Access World Championships
Greg Hyde
Greg Hyde Access Liberty World Champion

Macquarie 2012 Access World Championships
Sydney, Australia

Angus and Duncan MacGregor have finished first and second in the Access 2.3 single-person World Championship. Sixteen year-old Angus from Tinaroo in Queensland has successfully retained his world title in the class, courtesy of four wins, a trio of seconds and a fourth place.
His 22 year-old brother, Duncan, a university student living in Canberra, counted two wins and a trio of seconds in his score. Like his younger brother, he did not stray outside the top five, despite being out of the class for a while because of studies.

Angus, who won the Australian Sailor of the Year with a Disability in 2010, has an enormous amount of talent and a bright future ahead in sailing, if he should pursue that course.

"I wanted to win the title again - so I feel a bit relieved that it's all over - but it wasn't a life or death sort of wish," he said laughing.

Of him and Duncan placing top two, Angus just said, "Yeah, it's really nice." For Duncan, "it's a pretty good feeling."

Duncan explained: "When you turn up to big world class regattas like this, you don't know who will be here. There's always new people, and people from overseas you haven't raced before, so you never know what the level will be."

"It would have been good to race today; it's really light. We've had a great mix of weather, which means it doesn't favour anyone - everyone gets a fair go," he said.

Angus added: "Actually, if you're a good sailor, you should be good in all conditions."

A big supporter of the 2.3 class, Angus said: "This is the original Access boat and I'd like to see the fleet kept strong."

'Hydey' takes gold in the Access Liberty
Greg Hyde, who represented Australia in windsurfing at the 1984 Olympic Games and went on to claim fame in the 16 foot skiff class and in ocean racing, winning the 1993 Sydney Hobart, won five out of eight races in the Access Liberty single-handed class to claim the world title.

Hyde, from Clontarf near Middle Harbour, contracted encephalitis 14 years ago, then had a stroke in 2008, resulting in partial paralysis, short-term memory loss, and speech difficulties, none of which have affected his great skill in tactical racing.

As they say, you can't keep a good man down, and while many threw down the gauntlet this week, Hyde was not distracted from the task at hand; winning.

Hyde's nearest rival was Christopher Cook (AUS), a national and international champion who received Ballina Council's Australia Day award for outstanding work as a volunteer. Cook finished 12 points behind Hyde, with Frenchman, Gerard Eychenne third, a further 13 points away.

Now competition is over, Hyde intends getting back into the 2.4mR Paralympic class with hopes of competing at the 2016 Rio Olympics. "Winning," he says, "is a matter of choice. Making the right tactical decisions, going training, staying positive."

He described the mixed conditions of the week, which included 26, 15 and 6-12 knot winds, as "challenging." Hyde added, "It has been tactical, definitely, with all the wind shifts and pressure."

Hyde, who feels fortunate that his health has not affected his sailing ability, said Cook and Eychenne both gave him a run for his money.

Ennis and Leydon Claim Access 303 Two Person World Title
In the Access 303 two-person class, able-bodied sailors Patricia Ennis and Michael Leydon, a former Paralympic Games coach, were in the enviable position of being unbeatable yesterday and a further second and a win consolidated their new status as world champions.

Defending champions, Zoltan Pegan and his wife Eva MIrcsev (HUN) finished second overall. The harsh conditions of Tuesday were too much for them and many others, and they failed to finish Race 4, which pretty much sealed their fate.

Pegan was also nursing a nasty virus, but with physio from local volunteer, Kate Hogan, Pegan was feeling a little better yesterday and back capitalising on the lighter breezes he and Mircsev excel in.

The final day was the same, Pegan and Mircsev revelled in light and shifty breezes, but did not have enough in the tank to overcome the winners. "I've always liked the light conditions, - it's when I'm at my best," the former military pilot and expatriate Aussie acknowledged.

The Hungarians, who started the Championship with two victories, also notched up another three, in Races 7, 8 and 9, and finished off the regatta with a second, to leap-frog from third overall to second. "This was a typical Easter weather regatta and today was such a beautiful day," he said wistfully.

Mark Thorpe and Bruce James (AUS), who were sitting in second place until today, were pushed back to third overall.

Fujio Unuki and Naoki Maruyama (JPN) were the best placed internationals in fifth overall in this hot fleet.

Michael Leydon wins Access 303 International title
Able-bodied sailor Michael Leydon (AUS) has claimed the Access 303 international title from Stephen Churm (AUS).

Sydney sailor Churm, whose inclusion in the Australian team for the London Paralympics in the Sonar three-person keelboat will become known on Monday, looked to be in the money. However, Leydon was on a winning streak and Churm could not combat the onslaught of five wins.

"The regatta was fantastic," Churm said. "It was well-run, the volunteers were terrific, all to the credit of Middle Harbour Yacht Club. Sailing wise, we had everything and the competition has come a long way since I sailed in the class."

Tasmanian able-bodied sailor, Rodney Viney finished third, and with his Tassie team mates had a fun week at the regatta.

Internationals claim the spoils in the Liberty Servo
New Zealander Helena Horswell has taken out the Liberty single-person Servo International Championship from three Dutch sailors who breathed down her neck all week.

Horswell won by four points over Wilma Van den Broek, with Sefke Jan Holtrop third and Vera Voorbach fourth in a strong Dutch showing.

The Kiwi sailor is the only one competing in the Servo to complete all eight races. She used humour to overcome Tuesday's winds of up to 26 knots with big gusts to get her through the day, saying: "I laughed at nature, but the heavy winds are hard to operate with the levers," and cited the competition as being "very high."

Fitzgibbon and Tesch clean up for SKUD18 International title
Three days before they are officially announced as the SKUD 18 crew to represent Australia at the London Paralympic Games, Dan Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch have put their prospective rivals on notice, winning 10 out of 10 races in the international fleet at the Macquarie 2012 Access World Championships, hosted by Middle Harbour Yacht Club on Sydney Harbour.

Although second placed Ame Barnbrook/Lindsay Mason (AUS) and third placed Tim Dempsey/Jan Apel (NZL) threw everything they could at Fitzgibbon/Tesch, it was to no avail.

Tesch, a high school teacher on the NSW Central Coast, said, "Ame and Lindsay have helped make us better sailors and get us to where we're going."

On winning the SKUD International title today, Queenslander Fitzgibbon, the silver medallist skipper at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, said: "This has been great training for us. We're going to Hyere's in France for the ISAF Sailing World Cup on Monday and this regatta and our result here means we go in ready."

Barnbrook and Mason came into the final day of the regatta in third place overall, but got closer to their New Zealand competitors after scoring a pair of second places. Barnbrook, who is renowned for her starting skills, steered the pair to a further pair of second places to overtake the Kiwis, who are also likely to represent at the London Paralympics.

"We were so close to beating them (Dan and Liesl) at times. One day…. If anyone has a hope of winning for Australia at the Paralympics it's them," Barnbrook graciously said. Of the variable conditions this week, Barnbrook, from Narooma on the NSW south coast, said: "We thrive in 5-15 knots, so it was perfect conditions for us yesterday and today.

Dempsey and Apel finished third overall. "We know Dan and Liesl are good; we tried to beat them here, believe me," Apel stated ahead of being announced into the New Zealand team for London.

The Malaysian crew of Al Mustakim Martine and Nurul Amliln Balwi (MAL), also looking to represent at the London Paralympics finished fourth. The skipper said it was important for them to be here and experience the variable conditions. In their own country, they are used to very light breeze.

For full results, photos and more, go to the official website: www.2012accessworlds.mhyc.com.au

Di Pearson
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