Today will see the start of the 2002 IFDS World Disabled Sailing Championship and the first of the two Paralympic qualification regattas for the 2004 Paralympic Regatta taking place at the International Sailing Centre, Medemblik.
The Worlds follows on from the Dutch Open which took place from 17-22 September which welcomed both Olympic and Paralympic events. For the Paralympic athletes, the Dutch Open served as a warm-up event for the Disabled Sailing World Championships and was a good opportunity for the athletes to check-out the competition.
Last night saw Opening Ceremony for the IFDS World Disabled Sailing Championship, which took place overlooking the water. Led by the local Medemblik band, the parade consisted of three sailors from each nation who had paraded from the famous castle to the International Sailing Centre.
Welcomed and applauded by sailors, coaches, volunteers and local dignatories the parade was somewhat of a double-celebration, as the host club, the Royal Netherlands Yacht Club, celebrates its 155th Anniversary this year.
"Sailing is a State of Mind"
is the guiding theme of the Worlds as living with restricted physical disabilities requires extra effort from the body, and almost always even more from the mind, and in sailing a call to courage is made on both.
Sydney 2000 Paralympian John Twomey won the Dutch Open Olympic and Paralympics Class Regatta in the Sonar Class last week. Twomey, who finished 8th in Sydney is crewed by his team mate from Sydney Sean McGrath and new recruit Brian O'Mahony. They finished the Open Dutch Championship four points clear of the 22 boat fleet.
Speaking after the event Twomey said, "Winning this event is a great boost for us going into next week's World Championships. A lot of the World's best sailors were sailing the Dutch Open, so we are thrilled to do so well".
The Spanish team helmed by Enrique Vives finished 2nd with the USA team helmed by Rick Doerr finishing 3rd.
Over in the 2.4mR event, it was Damien Seguin (FRA) who took the bullet, with only one result out of the top 5, followed by Peter Thompson (AUS) and Thierry Schmitter (NED) in third. All three are going onto compete at the World Disabled Sailing Championship with 23 entries in the Sonar, with 41 entries in the 2.4mR event.
This 2002 IFDS World Disabled Sailing Championship fields the largest number of entries and countries seen to date at a Worlds and competition is guaranteed to be hot. A 9 race series is scheduled, concluding on Friday 27 September.
The top seven nations to finish in each of the 2.4mR event and the Sonar at the World Championships will automatically qualify for the 2004 Paralympics Games.
Built four years ago, the Sailing Centre was designed to host major Championships, and any club in Holland is welcome to use the Centre to host events. Indeed SPA Regatta has been held here for the past three years.
The ISAF website will be bringing you daily reports and results, or you can go to the event website.