Australia has won medals in all three Paralympic sailing classes, with Matt Bugg taking the Silver medal in the 2.4mR class overnight.
Going into the final day of competition, the Aussies had secured Gold in both the Sonar and SKUD18 classes, but the medals were still wide open in the 2.4mR class.
An overnight protest saw Australia’s Matt Bugg disqualified from race 10 in the 2.4mR and as a result he moved from 1st to 3rd overall coming into today’s final race. With the standings, Bugg had to protect the Bronze from USA sailor, Dee Smith who was only two points behind. He was also a long shot at moving up in either Silver or Gold, but had to have 10 places between he and the competitors from Great Britain and France.
Bugg got caught up in a start line incident with USA’s Smith, and was back in the fleet in the early stages of the race, but sailed well to move back up into first place by the third mark rounding. He eventually crossed the finish line in first place, then the nervous wait began to see where France and Great Britain would finish. France crossed the finish line in fourth, while Great Britain finished back in 13th place – enough to move Bugg up into the Silver medal position.
“I’ve done it pretty tough this week,” said Bugg. “I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night (after the protest) and I really went into this race in a tough position. I can’t be too disappointed with the result.
“I had a good experience in London and I saw my team mates up there getting a gold medal and I decided that’s what I wanted. To come here and get a Silver is an achievement and I’m really happy with that.“
In the Sonar class our Aussie crew of Colin Harrison, Russell Boaden and Jonathan Harris sailed today’s final race after wrapping up the Gold yesterday with a race to spare. The Aussies were jubilant with their Gold medal winning victory and reflective of the future ahead, with sailing not included on the Paralympic schedule for Tokyo 2020.
“The Games is what it’s all about and it’s nice to crack it at the big one,” said Harrison.
“It’s a good one to win,” said Boaden. “The first Paralympics (Sonar class) was won by an Australian team, and it’s nice that the last was won by an Australian team too.”
When asked about what the future held, Boaden responded “We’ll get back to Australia and look at what the options are and make a decision from there. If sailing was included in Tokyo, we would have stayed on, but now we go back to ‘normal’ lives.”
Australia’s back to back Paralympic champions in the SKUD18, Daniel Fitzgibbon & Liesl Tesch also enjoyed their final race, crossing the finish line in second place. The Aussies wrapped up the Gold medal with two races to spare yesterday after a dominant display all week.
It was business as usual today” said Tesch.
“We keep the same processes day in day out,” said Fitzgibbon. “Although I felt nervous even though we’d won it already .To race on that race course – the most difficult one in the world, to get the scorecard we had and to be retiring at the end of it, is a fairytail for me.”
“I want to thank Liesl for the journey,” said Fitzgibbon. “We’ve had the highs and the lows, and the wins and all the losses. But what a way to retire! We couldn’t do better than that!”
It’s really important to get sailing back into the Paralympics,: said Tesch. “We are getting more and more people involved and building the numbers in international competition. It’s really important we get sailing back in to 2024!”