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19 January 2006, 10:54 am
British Day On The Swan River
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Alcoa IFDS World Disabled Sailing Championships 2006
Perth, Australia

Although the waves on Perth's Swan River are only small, Britannia definitely ruled them today on the opening day of the 2006 Alcoa IFDS World Disabled Sailing Championships, winning three of the four races sailed in Australia. Helena LUCAS (GBR) grabbed two victories in the 2.4 Metre, whilst defending champions in the Sonar John ROBERTSON, Hannah STODEL and Stephen THOMAS (GBR) scored a bullet and a second.
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LUCAS from the Royal Southampton Yacht Club, and a member of the Volvo for Life team, grabbed two bullets in the 2.4 Metre, the first by just seven seconds from Norway's Bjornar ERIKSTAD, and then by 19 seconds from German Heiko KRÖGER.

In the three-person keelboat Sonar, the team of ROBERTSON, STODEL and THOMAS did nearly as well, with a first and a second, to lead the fleet at the end of the day.

LUCAS came ashore with a smile that told the story, 'Brilliant, really good conditions,' was her summary of the day that marks her as the sailor to beat.

'It was a bit easier than yesterday,' she elaborated, 'Because the seabreeze was a lot stronger, and it just helped to settle the wind down a bit more, which meant that the shifts were a bit more even and easier to play.'

ROBERTSON and his Oyster Yachts sponsored team nearly made the double, losing the second race to Germany's Jens KROKER, Holger SCHOENBERG and Tobias SCHUETZ by just four seconds.

Talking about the second race ROBERTSON said, 'We nearly got it on the finish line, but Jens, the German guy, just beat us by half a boatlength.'

It was a classic Swan River day, with the fabled Fremantle Doctor seabreeze sweeping in from the Indian Ocean at 20-25 knots, keeping the sailors busy, and the city cool.

KROKER commented on the conditions, 'The wind was OK, a little bit shifty, and it got a bit gusty especially in the second race, gusts with 25 knots in it.'

The 2006 IFDS World Disabled Sailing Championship is the first qualification event for the 2008 Paralympic Sailing Competition, with the seven top ranked nations in both the one-person keelboat 2.4 Metre and three-person keelboat Sonar events gaining qualification, subject to IPC approval. The first qualifying event for the new two-person keelboat Paraylmpic event in the UD-18 will take place later in the year.

For all the news from the Alcoa IFDS World Disabled Sailing Championships CLICK HERE.

John ROBERSON (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Helena LUCAS is off to a flying start in Perth:© www.helenalucas.com
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