For the first time, Australia’s best para sailors will strive for podium places in a nationwide competition, with the establishment of the Australian Para Sailing Championships, to be held in conjunction with the 2018 Sail Melbourne International regatta at Royal Brighton Yacht Club in December.
As in previous years, para sailors will continue to compete alongside able-bodied colleagues at the highly regarded Olympic and Invited classes regatta. However, this time, results for the classified sailors will be separated in the para sailing category and placings determined.
“Sail Melbourne has featured the para classes with inclusive competition for almost 20 years, but now results will also be extracted from the open class competition for the National Para Sailing Championships”, said Mark Taylor, Co-Chair of Sail Melbourne’s Race Management Committee.
“Australian Sailing is also working with World Sailing to organise the Oceania Paralympic Development Program for sailors and coaches from emerging sailing nations in the week leading up to the regatta, so we will see some new countries appearing and competing at the event.”
Sailors with a wide range of disabilities, from Australia, the Pacific and further afield, will compete with past Paralympians and members of the 2018 Para Sailing Squad for the title of Australian Para Sailing Champion in four classes – 2.4mR, Hansa 303 one-person, Hansa 303 two-person and SKUD 18.
The Hansa 303 makes its appearance at Sail Melbourne for first time this year. The Hansa 303, designed by Australian Chris Mitchell, has been sailed in Para World Championships since 2017 and is popular with inclusive sailing programs around the world.
Three members of Australia’s Para Sailing Squad will compete in this class at the 2018 Para World Championships in Sheboygan, USA, in September. A large contingent of Australian sailors will also compete in the 303 at the Hansa Class Combined World Championships in Hiroshima, Japan, in October.
While the RS Venture Connect has now been selected as the two-person equipment for Para World Championships, the SKUD 18 will be used for the 2018 Para nationals to enable Australian Sailing coaches to evaluate potential teams for the 2019 Worlds, which will be held in Puerto Sherry, Spain, next July. A new configuration will see helms seated on the centreline with crews able to transfer and hike.
To be eligible for the inaugural Para Sailing Championships in Melbourne, crews must have a World Sailing Para Classification (physical disability), a current IBSA Classification (low vision) or be a registered INAS or Special Olympics athlete (intellectual disability).
For athletes not already classified, World Sailing Para Classification will be available on December 12 adjacent to the regatta venue. There is no cost for classification, but athletes must pre-register. IBSA, INAS or Special Olympics classifications must be confirmed prior to competition.
“The introduction of the National Para Sailing Championship and the opportunity to increase the number of Australian sailors with a para classification will help strengthen sailing’s bid for reinstatement in the 2024 Paralympic Sports Program”, said David Staley, Australian Sailing’s Para Sailing Coordinator and Vice-Chair of the Para World Sailing Committee.
“In January, the International Paralympic Committee will make its final decision about which sports are to be included in the 2024 Paris Games.
“World Sailing has been working hard to make sure our sport is successful, but strong entry numbers and an increased number of classified sailors competing in the Australian Para Nationals at Sail Melbourne will boost sailing’s position at a crucial time.”
Sail Melbourne has published Notice of Race Supplement setting out eligibility criteria and rules for the Australian Para Sailing Championships. Download it HERE
Sail Melbourne International Notice of Race
Online Entry and Para Classification Bookings HERE
Photo: Teri Dodds