Australia’s Paralympic sailors have enjoyed near perfect sailing conditions in Rio overnight, with strong breezes of 12-15 knots, at times gusting over 20 knots and perfect cloudless skies. The Aussies made the most of the conditions and at the end of the day the Aussie crews are leading in the Sonar and SKUD18 classes and lying second overall in the 2.4mR.
In the 2.4mR, Matt Bugg came out hard and fast after the disappointment of no racing yesterday. Bugg finished third in his first race of the day, then demonstrated absolute control in the second race, leading convincingly from start to finish. In the final race he was in the leading group for the entire race, but got rolled right before the finish line and crossed in fifth place.
“Today was a good confidence builder for me,” said Bugg at the conclusion of racing. “I was never really out of the top three, apart from the last 10 seconds of the final race. That is very hard to do in a Paralympic fleet.
“It was a long day. It was very windy when we first got out there – right on the limit. I tend to go fast in those conditions. Overall it was a good day for me - I started off in equal third and moved up into second overall.”
Bugg is only two points off the leader of the fleet, Helena Lucas from Great Britain. However, the overall standings in the fleet are extremely tight with only six points between first and sixth on the leaderboard.
In the SKUD18, Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch continue to be the boat to beat on the racecourse. The Aussies won the first race of the day, but had to fight their way back up from third after a slightly slower start. In the second race the team from Great Britain came out hard and fast and the Aussies weren’t able to get in front of them so had to be content with second place at the finish line. However, in the final race of the day they led from start to finish, with a dominant display.
“Today was an incredibly hard day with three races,” said Fitzgibbon when he came off the water. “We had a lot of wind and big waves. We just had to keep our heads on and do as well as we could. It was a test of endurance after the long day yesterday. We’ve had a bit of everything at this regatta, but that’s why we love sailing.”
Fitzgibbon and Tesch lead the SKUD18 fleet overall, eight points clear of Great Britain in second place.
Australia’s Sonar team of Colin Harrison, Russell Boaden and Jonathan Harris had a tough first race today. The Aussies fought their way back through the fleet to cross the finish line in seventh place. In the second and third races of the day, it was only the team from Great Britain who got ahead of the Aussies. GBR won both races, while the Aussies finished second in both. The Aussies have a six-point lead on the team from USA in the overall standings, and will be looking for another strong performance tomorrow.
Racing continues tomorrow from 1200 noon Rio time (1am Sydney time) and three races are scheduled for all classes.