2004 Paralympic Games Medallists
1. Dror CHOHEN, Arnon EFRATI and Benny VEXLER (ISR)
2. Udo HESSELS, Marcel Van De VEEN and Mischa ROSSEN (NED)
3. John ROSS DUGGAN, Jean Paul CREIGNOU and Bradley JOHNSON (USA)
2000 Paralympic Games Medallists
1. Noel ROBINS, Jamie DUNROSS and Graeme MARTIN (AUS)
2. Jens KROKER, Peter MENTER and Peter REICHL (GER)
3. David WILLIAMS, Paul TINGLEY and Brian MACDONALD (CAN)
Dror CHOHEN, Arnon EFRATI and Benny VEXLER (ISR) are the Sonar team to beat at the 2008 Paralympic Sailing Competition in Qingdao. They have been sailing the longest together as a team and they are the defending gold medalists from the Athens Paralympic Games. The 14-boat fleet is scheduled to race 11 races. The competition takes place 8-13 September. COHEN and VEXLER have been sailing together since 1997 and the three have been racing together as a team since 2001. This is VEXLER's third Paralympics and COHEN and EFRATI's second. The secret to their success in Athens was Gil YAKIMOV (ISR), their coach. YAKIMOV is with them again in Qingdao. The three sailors and their coach have one goal; to return to Israel with another gold medal.
There are likely to be two fleets of competitors in Qingdao, a group of elite teams and others who have had the funding, facilities, time, equipment or coaching to keep up with those who are putting in big efforts as the bar keeps being raised on the level of disabled sailing. Some of the teams compete regularly in open class events by adding a fourth crew member and a spinnaker to the boat. The additions make sailing the Sonar more complicated and they also improve timing and crew work.
John ROBERTSON, Stephen THOMAS and Hannh STODEL (GBR) are on a roll as they head into the Paralympic Sonar competition. They won the Semaine Olympic Francaise and the Sonar IFDS Qingdao International Regatta earlier this year.
ROBERTSON, THOMAS and STODEL are also riding on the coat tails of the euphoria remaining from their teammates' four gold, one silver and one bronze Olympic sailing medals in August in Qingdao. The team has been sailing together since 2002 and was sixth in the Sonar at the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games.
Bruno JOURDREN, Jerve LARHANT and Nicolas VIMONT-VICARY (FRA) have strung together a series of second place finishes in the Sonar since teaming up for the 2007 IFDS World Championships in Rochester, New York. LARHANT and VIMONT-VICARY have been sailing together since 2002 with different skippers.
"Something is changing," according to LARHANT since the pair recruited professional sailor JOURDREN. JOURDREN, a French national champion in the Melges class and an offshore racer, arrived in Qingdao directly after winning last week's 19-boat 1,000-mile, double-handed race from Brittany to Spain and back on his 40-foot yacht.
Jostein STORDAHL, Per Eugen KRISTIANSEN and Aleksxander WANG-HANSEN (NOR) are an experience Sonar team. To hone their sailing skills, each of the team members sails 2.4 Metres in addition to the Sonar. STORDAHL was at the helm of the Sonar during the Sydney Paralympics where his team finished eighth.
Paul MCCARTHY, Paul RYAN and Richard WHEALEY (IRL) must be making good use of Rhino's (RYAN's) ability to sniff out shifts, because they found a nice one that popped them into the lead during the practice race. Irish are definitely a team to watch. They are relaxed, having a lot of fun and have proven that they are capable of doing well having won a very competitive trials to qualify for the 2008 Paralympic Sailing Competition.
Since winning the 2007 IFDS World Championships in Rochester, New York, Rick DOERR, Tim ANGLE and Bill DONOHUE (USA) have been training with one of the toughest Sonar fleets in the world. DOERR is also the president of the Sonar class.
About the Sonar
The Sonar was designed by Bruce KIRBY in 1980 specifically to meet the requirements of a club racing one-design keelboat fleet. It had to be exciting to race yet easy to handle by sailors of all ages, strengths and skill levels, comfortable and spacious enough to be used as a day sailor, trailerable and easy to launch as well as being a suitable training boat to help teach club members new to the sport.
The Sonar has a self bailing sit in cockpit and good stability making it ideal for the less agile and disabled sailors. A high sail area/displacement ration makes the Sonar a good performer in light winds and the ample ballast and stable hull make it fast but easy to handle even in heavy breezes. The sail plan is designed for efficiency and control and the full range of rig adjustments allows the crew to easily alter sail shape.
The Sonar is popular with able-bodied and disabled sailors alike and there is a competitive racing circuit in Europe and the USA.
Find out more about the Sonar here.
Australia - Russel BOADEN, Colin HARRISON and Graeme MARTIN
Austria - Edmund RATH, Sven REIGER and Helmut SEEWALD
Brazil - Luiz Cesar FARIA, Rossando LEITAO and Darke MATTOS
Canada - Ken KELLY, Marc SHAW and Don TERLSON
China - Ke LI, Tao WANG and Jingkun XU
France - Bruno JOURDREN, Jerve LARHANT and Nicolas VIMONT-VICARY
Germany - Jens KROKER, Siegmund MAINKA and Tobias SCHUTZ
Great Britain - John ROBERTSON, Stephen THOMAS and Hannh STODEL
Greece - Theodoras ALEXAS, Vasileios CHRISTOFOROU and Nikolaos PATERAKIS
Ireland - Paul MCCARTHY, Paul RYAN and Richard WHEALEY
Israel - Dror CHOHEN, Arnon EFRATI and Benny VEXLER
Italy - Marco COLLINETTI, Antonio SQUIZZATO and Massimo VEBTURINI
Norway - Jostein STORDAHL, Per Eugen KRISTIANSEN and Aleksxander WANG-HANSEN
USA - Rick DOERR, Tim ANGLE and Bill DONOHUE
ISAF Paralympic Games microsite - www.sailing.org/paralympics